Relations between Bihar ruling alliance partners Janata Dal (United) and the BJP took another dive on Sunday, a day after JD(U) Chief Minister Nitish Kumar snubbed alliance partner BJP by returning the Rs 5 crore given by the Gujarat government as aid to victims of the Kosi floods in 2008.
The BJP reacted strongly, with the state’s deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi staying away from the first meeting of the chief minister’s Vishwas Yatra (Confidence March) at Paliganj in Patna district on Sunday morning.
Nitish Kumar attended the first meet, but the BJP's decision saw him call off the second meeting of the yatra, scheduled at Patna Sahib, the constituency of senior BJP leader and the NDA’s Bihar convenor Nand Kishore Yadav later in the day.
Sushil Modi defended his decision, saying, “I don’t want to accompany Kumar to the public meeting after the chief minister’s decision to return the flood relief money to the government of Gujarat.”
“We have taken the development seriously and we don't want to carry forward politics over the funds meant for the welfare of the flood-hit victims in the Kosi belt,” he added.
Neither Nitish Kumar nor any senior JD(U) leaders was available for comment on Sunday.
The rift in the alliance began after advertisements were published in local dailies during the BJP's national executive meeting in Patna on June 12-13. The advertisements showed Nitish Kumar and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi holding hands and the Gujarat government proclaiming how it had aided Bihar by donating money for victims of the Kosi disaster.
With an assembly election four months away, and well aware of the Muslim antipathy to Modi, Nitish Kumar reacted to this grandstanding by cancelling the dinner he had planned for BJP leaders attending their conclave in Patna.