Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar blamed a BJP and RJD conspiracy for the mid-day meal tragedy but his party chief Sharad Yadav said a conclusion could only be drawn after the submission of the probe report.
“The Masrakh and Bodh Gaya incidents have shown that the BJP and RJD have joined hands. More such incidents can take place,” Kumar said at a meeting of Janata Dal (United) MPs, legislators and leaders in Patna on Monday.
“I do not know what chief minister Nitish Kumar and education minister PK Shahi have said. One can reach a conclusion on the Chhapra episode only after the probe is over,” JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav said on Tuesday.
In a sudden development, Rajya Sabha MP Shivanand Tiwary, considered close to the CM, was removed as the JD (U) spokesman, leaving KC Tyagi, known to be close to Yadav, as the sole national spokesman. When reached for comments, Tiwary said he didn’t know of the decision.
On July 16, 23 schoolchildren died after eating lunch at a primary school in Masrakh in Chhapra district. Autopsies revealed that the children died of insecticide poisoning.
The CM said the BJP wanted to derive political mileage after it failed to sell its hardline agenda.
The BJP was quick to hit back. “The fact is Nitish Kumar is shamelessly trying to cover it under a conspiracy theory, holding the political parties in Bihar responsible for mid-day meal deaths…” general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
Kumar had forgotten he was not just a JD-U leader but also the Bihar CM, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said. “They cannot take the credit for the good work and blame the opposition for all the bad things," he said.
The JD (U) had on June 16 ended the 17-year-old alliance with the BJP to protest Narendra Modi’s elevation as the saffron party’s campaign chief.
The understanding between the RJD and BJP was clearly visible as both observed bandhs a day after the blasts and Chhapra tragedy, Bihar JD (U) chief Bashishtha Narayan Singh said.
A series of low-intensity blasts rocked the Buddhist town of Bodh Gaya on July 7, injuring two monks. Home-grown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen is the prime suspect.
As the two sides traded charges, the court of Chhapra chief judicial magistrate admitted a complaint against the CM, Shahi, Saran district magistrate and the school headmistress. Gross negligence had led to the mid-day meal tragedy, advocate Shashiranjan Pathak told the court in his complaint.