Modi snubs Nitish again

Modi snubs Nitish again

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar conducting an aerial survey of flood affected areas, in Bihar. PTI file photo

In yet another snub to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Narendra Modi government has doled out only Rs 1,200 crore as against the Rs 7,636 crore sought by the JD (U) strongman as flood relief.

The move, which has the potential to snowball into a major row, as well increase the friction between Nitish and the Prime Minister, comes at a time when the relationship between the two NDA partners is at its lowest ebb.

In August 2017, Bihar suffered a major flash flood in which 514 people lost their lives. The flood wreaked havoc in 19 districts of Bihar, thereby affecting over 1.7 crore people.

Several roads, embankments, drains and bridges were damaged in the flash flood, caused by incessant rain in the upper catchment areas of neighbouring Nepal.

Modi, who visited the flood-affected areas and took stock of the situation in August last year, assured "all possible assistance" to the Bihar chief minister.

Modi also assured that with a "double engine government", referring to the two NDA governments in the Centre and Bihar, the victims will get adequate compensation and justice.

Modi had announced Rs 500-crore immediate relief package in August last year. But recently, when the Centre compensated Bihar, it sanctioned a sum of around Rs 1,700 crore but reportedly deducted Rs 500 crore announced as immediate relief.

"Effectively, we have got Rs 1200 crore as flood relief. This amount was decided by the Centre. What can we do?" said Bihar's Disaster Management Department Minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav.

The Bihar government had earlier submitted a demand of Rs 7,636 crore for restoration of basic infrastructure, including roads, drains and embankments, besides providing relief to those hit by the devastating flood.

Third snub

In the last 10 months, this has been the third major snub by Modi to his once arch-rival Nitish.

In August 2017, Modi did not include any of the JD (U) MPs in his cabinet despite much brouhaha over Nitish switching sides and joining the NDA camp after dumping his Grand Alliance partners.

In October 2017, Modi snubbed Nitish publicly when he paid no heed to the chief minister's demand for central status to Patna University during the varsity's centenary celebration function.

Frozen ties

Nitish-Modi ties apparently nosedived again in April 2018 when the Bihar chief minister reminded Modi, during the Champaran Satyagraha centenary celebration at Motihari, that it was veteran socialist and his ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia who first talked of Swachh Bharat (cleanliness drive and open-defecation free society) in the 1950s.

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