Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar finally spoke to each other directly on Tuesday, instead of trading charges through public statements as they had been doing for the past two days. Singh promised to take a second look at the center-state differences over funds for flood relief.
The war of words between the two had begun on Sunday with Nitish declaring at an NDA rally in Ludhiana that the center had written to the Bihar government on April 30, the very day polling ended in the state, asking it to return the Rs. 1000 crore lent to it as special assistance after the devastating floods in the river Kosi in August last year.
On Monday, the PM addressing a press conference attacked Nitish for having shared the dais with Gujarat chief at the same NDA rally.
“Nitish professes to be a secular leader but when I saw him clasping Modi’s hand, doubts did arise in my mind,” he said.
Referring to the floods, Man-mohan Singh also stated at the press conference that the centre had asked for its money back because the Bihar government had failed to utilize it.
Angry mails then flew back and forth between senior bureaucrats in Patna and Delhi, but on Tuesday the PM put an end to it all.
“He said he would have a re-look at the entire issue,” said Nitish. “The cabinet secretary has been given necessary instructions.”