Nitish returns Kosi flood aid to Gujarat

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has returned the Gujarat govt`s aid to Bihar during the 2008 Kosi floods.

Zeenews Bureau

Patna: The ugly war between Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar is still not over, with the latter on Saturday returning the Gujarat government`s aid to Bihar during the Kosi floods of 2008.

Kumar has returned the Rs 5 crore lying unspent in the
CM`s relief account that was received from Gujarat after
floods devastated large parts of the Kosi river belt in 2008,
officials said today.

The move came in the wake of the controversy which erupted after the Gujarat government, in an advertisement, claimed it had donated liberally to Bihar after the Kosi floods.

The publication of Kumar’s photograph with that of Narendra Modi in another advertisement published in Bihar dailies had added fuel to the fire.

Speaking to a television channel, Bihar Disaster management Minister Devesh Thakur said, “We felt… the whole issue was in compliance with our secular image so we returned the money.”

Further, clarifying his government’s stand, Thakur said, “We feel minorities should feel safe and secure in the state. Modi has an image of being anti-secular, so we don’t want this to affect our party.”

"Inspite of being with the BJP right or wrong, BJP does not have a non-secular image in the country. We are not going to debate the merits of that....We have maintained our secular image and the government`s secular image and we have a done a lot of things for the welfare of the minorities in the last five year. We don`t want this to be upset by someone whose secular image is tainted. We don`t want them to come
this last minute and upset this image we have created in the last five years," Thakur said.

When asked about the BJP-JD(U) alliance, the minister said his party doesn’t have any problem with continuing its relationship with the national party.

Amid a spat between Nitish Kumar and his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi, JD-U president Sharad Yadav today cleared the air, saying the party`s alliance with the BJP in Bihar would

"The ties between the two parties are old and they will continue. There is no question of any break-up", he said when asked about the fate of the alliance after Kumar returned the Gujarat government`s aid to Bihar during the Kosi floods of 2008.

The Nitish-Modi spat had come out in open when the Bihar CM had termed as "uncivilised" Gujarat government`s claim through newspaper advertisements that it donated liberally to Bihar after the 2008 Kosi floods.

Kumar also took strong exception to the use of his photograph with that of Narendra Modi in another advertisement published in local dailies and said he would take legal action against those responsible for it.

"The Gujarat government`s claim (on flood relief) is uncivilised and against Indian culture. Nobody claims of bestowing favours on those who face tragedy caused by natural calamities," Kumar, who heads the JD(U)-BJP coalition government in Bihar, had told reporters.

"I have no knowledge about the agency advertising my photograph along with that of Modi as published in newspapers today. Nor was my office consulted... I will explore and take all possible legal action against those responsible for this unethical and illegal act," the chief minister had said.

Kumar had, however, clarified that such developments would not impact the alliance between the two parties.

His comments came at a time when the two parties are preparing for the Assembly Elections in the state due later this year. Kumar has kept Modi at an arm`s length apparently to woo Muslim voters.

He had specifically asked the BJP not to use Modi, who had received flak for the 2002 Gujarat riots, in its campaign in the state during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

A section of BJP leadership felt the advertisements were brought out by those opposed to the JD(U)-BJP alliance.

BJP’s reaction

Meanwhile, senior BJP minister Giriraj Singh termed the return of the funds as `against constitutional prestige`. "It reflects an uncultured decision not permitted in politics," he said.

Singh said when Modi had expressed sympathy and commitment for the people from Bihar living in Gujarat and had accepted with full himility the support his state had received at the time of earthquake in Surat from Bihar, the controversy over the issue should have ended there.

"It won`t be proper on my part to speak about the alliance the BJP has with JD(U)," he said in a reply to a question whether it would further strain relations between the two NDA partners.