Modi steals Nitish Kumar’s boast on road building

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar cut a sorry, even a pathetic figure in public on Saturday. With Manmohan Singh never taking credit for road schemes, it was left to PM Modi on Saturday to boast of his grand deed

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Soroor Ahmed

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bihar has, instead of cementing the bond between Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal (United), has caused uneasiness––if not tension––in the relationship between the two ruling coalition partners in the state.

There was hardly any poster, hoarding and advertisement of chief minister Nitish Kumar on the streets of Patna and at the venues of functions on PU campus and Mokama that the PM attended. The slogan “Modi, Modi” rent the air with nobody bothering for Nitish Kumar.

“Gone are the days when we fear to take the name of Narendra Modi, especially after the cancellation of dinner on June 12, 2010 by Nitish,” an elated senior BJP leader told confided to the media.

The JD(U) leaders were hardly anywhere in the picture. Now Nitish would not walk away with all the credits of development works, especially construction of roads, in the state. It is the Prime Minister of the country, who flew all the way from New Delhi to proclaim in Mokama that Bihar had not seen as much road construction since Independence as it had since 2014.

Perhaps this was the one sentence which hurt Nitish Kumar more than the Prime Minister’s brusque dismissal in public of his request , made with folded hands, to declare a central university status for Patna University.

While Narendra Modi’s claim about record road construction since 2014 may surely be contested, one cannot deny the fact that roads and bridges were built in large mumber in Bihar during Nitish’s tenure. But the chief minister’s claim in the past were also highly exaggerated as many of these roads were funded by the central government and had little or nothing to do with the Bihar government.

No doubt state highways and district roads were built during the Nitish era, but the roads which changed the face of Bihar were the rural roads built under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, National Highways, the East-West Corridor and the Golden Quadrilateral.

But since no Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh during Nitish’s early rule) would come to take the credit, the Bihar CM encashed these development works during the 2010 Assembly poll.

As the media was backing him then, there was nobody to question him. A Roving Editor of a national English daily did a front-page lead story in its Patna edition showering praise on Nitish Kumar government for building roads which make it possible to travel from Patna to Kishanganj in the east in just six hours. The truth was that this was largely pssible because of the completion of work on the East-West Corridor from Porbandar in Gujarat to Silchar in Assam.

Incidentally, when the construction of the Golden Quadrilateral in Bihar took off in 2003-2004, the then Rabri Devi government did not take any credit. In fact, its consruction was marred by the killing of IIT-ian Satyendra Dubey in November 2003. He was killed in Gaya after he reportedly wrote a letter to PMO complaining about rampant corruption in the National Highway Authority of India during the construction of Golden Quadrilateral in Jharkhand and Bihar.

But all those are the stories of the past. Today, it is not only the personality of the Prime Minister, who would not let Nitish Kumar pat on his own back, but even a young BJP MLA like Nitin Navin is emboldened to publicly pull up Janata Dal (United) for walking away with the agenda of the BJP.

Nitish Kumar had on October 2 launched a campaign against child marriage and dowry. First it was pooh-poohed by a couple of BJP leaders. Later Nitin Navin accused JD(U) of borrowing his party’s programme. After all the Prime Minister had already launched “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” and a series of other schemes for girl-child and women.

Contrast this with the situation when deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi would see in Nitish Kumar Prime Ministerial material!

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