Bihar Assembly witnesses different shades of Nitish

Bihar Assembly witnesses different shades of Nitish Kumar

The chief minister kept his cool while reacting to barbs of the Opposition leaders most of the time

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Credit: PTI Photo

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday strongly defended his government against accusations of maladministration and berated the opposition for its allegations but making itself scarce whenever it was countered with facts.

Observations to the effect were made repeatedly by the chief minister on the floor of the Assembly while replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the governors address.

The 70-year-old leader spoke for more than an hour and the last 30 minutes were spent with the opposition in abstentia as MLAs of the RJD, Congress and the Left staged a walkout expressing dissatisfaction with the chief ministers reply.

You all are free to go wherever you wish. But please make it a point to watch my speech on TV. I am responding to the very points you all had raised, Kumar said sarcastically after the Leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Yadav signalled to his flock that it was time to leave the House.

The chief minister kept his cool while reacting to barbs of the opposition leaders, but responded with righteous anger when a CPI-ML member sought to disparage his government's efforts at environmental preservation.

Do not become enemies of the environment contending that the poor have nothing to do with it. You have been lucky to win 12 seats for the first time. Do not waste your opportunity in this fashion, Kumar shot back at the leader of CPI-ML with which he had allied in the 1995 assembly polls.

He also came down heavily on suggestions made by various leaders of the Congress that his government's decision to ban alcohol be reviewed and some liquor shops be allowed to do business.

Prohibition law was unanimously passed by this House, Kumar said referring to the development of April, 2016 when Congress was his alliance partner.

He also whipped out a bundle of papers, saying this is the form which everyone signs while taking primary membership of the Congress party. There is a column wherein the aspirant has to declare that he will consume no intoxicants.

And the members of the very party have the temerity to speak in favour of liquor consumption. Prohibition is an idea inspired from Gandhian ideals, Kumar fumed.

The chief minister was at his paternalistic best when he was interrupted by 31-year-old Yadav number of times.

I did not interrupt you when you were delivering your speech. It gives me delight when the younger generation takes interest. We are not here for eternity. But being attentive to what is being said now will be of benefit to you and your generation, Kumar said disarmingly.

Speaking with his face mask at his chin, Kumar also remarked smiling pointing to the opposition, You all seem to be less careful. This is not proper. If you have forgotten to bring your masks along, please contact the Speaker who has made arrangements for such situations.

Asserting that the state has made giant strides in power consumption, he agreed that the rates were quite high. Bihar is paying Rs 4.50 per unit, highest for any state, a reason why I had suggested one nation one rate for power.

He had made the suggestion at a meeting of Niti Ayog chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.

When Yadav interrupted again blaming the states power woes on policies formulated two decades ago by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government at the Centre, Kumar, who has been an old associate of the formers father Lalu Prasad, remarked You were a child at that time. I am one of those on whose lap you used to play.

You seem to know a lot about what took place back then. Come to me with the material you have. I can say only about the portfolios I held, said Kumar who had served as the Minister for Railways, Surface Transport and Agriculture in the Vajpayee government.

He fondly recalled the work done by Vajpayee government which paved the way for the rapid progress Bihar has witnessed in the past decade and a half.

We would like to know about you experience with the current regime, quipped Yadav in a snide reference to Kumars not so comfortable equation with Modi, whose elevation in the BJP he had strongly opposed in 2013 and exited the NDA.

To this Kumar retorted If you insist on that I would ask you to speak about your experience of the year and eight months you worked with me.

Yadav had served as Kumar's deputy, the post to which he was appointed soon after his electoral debut in 2015 and which he held until the JD(U) leader returned to the NDA in 2017.

The RJD leader had in his speech sought to put the government on the mat on the issue of law and order and claimed that as per NCRB figures cognizable offences have seen a more than 100 per cent rise since Kumar took over.

Kumar countered Bihar has slipped to the 25th position in the country in terms of the number of cognizable offences and added more on that later when the Home department reels out statistics in due course.

AIMIM state president and MLA Akhtarul Iman, who stayed back after the Grand Alliance members had walked out, tried to interrupt Kumar and raise the demand for making Purnea in north Bihar the states up-rajdhani (second capital).

This is unnecessary. Patna is now well connected to the farthest corners of Bihar, Kumar asserted.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox