Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Rs 1.25 lakh crore package for election-bound Bihar and attacked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his "arrogance" in returning money meant for victims of the 2008 Kosi floods.
Shortly after Modi ended his campaign speech attended by thousands at Ara town on Tuesday, Nitish Kumar accused the prime minister of spreading falsehood and insisted the money was Bihar’s right and not a favour.
After laying the foundation stones for 10 road projects, Modi told the rally that the package would change the face of Bihar and urged the people to vote the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in the assembly polls.
The prime minister said Rs 40,000 crore unspent from an earlier aid package to the state would also be given, taking the total central assistance to Rs.1.65 lakh crore.
Modi recalled that before the 2014 Lok Sabha election, he had promised a special package of Rs.50,000 crore to Bihar. “But looking at the dreams of a prosperous Bihar, it was later decided to give a bigger package.”
Modi accused Nitish Kumar of playing political games and of getting only Rs.12,000 crore for Bihar from the previous Congress-led UPA government.
He also challenged Nitish Kumar’s claim that Bihar was no longer a ‘BIMARU’ state. “Our chief minister turned very angry and said who is Modi to call Bihar a BIMARU state. He said with authority that Bihar is no longer a BIMARU state. If that’s true, I will be the happiest person.”
Later, addressing another rally in Saharsa district, Modi again targeted Nitish Kumar, the Janata Dal-United leader and the BJP’s arch foe in the election. “The chief minister returned the money given to help the people affected by the Kosi floods. It hurt me.”
“At the time of the Kosi tragedy, an arrogant leader was not worried about the pain and suffering of the flood victims,” Modi said.
Miffed over advertisements featuring him and then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and referring to the aid provided by Gujarat during the 2008 floods, Nitish Kumar returned the Rs.5 crore given for the purpose.
Nitish Kumar had then said the Gujarat government’s claim was uncivilised and against Indian culture. “Nobody claims to bestowing favours on those who face tragedy caused by natural calamities,” he said.
The advertisement, published in the name of dozens of people of Bihar now settled in Gujarat, projected Modi as a close friend of Nitish Kumar and highlighted his state’s generous help after the devastating 2008 floods in Bihar.
Modi said the fear of a return of ‘jungle raj’ was rattling Bihar. “A wind for change is blowing in Bihar. It favours the BJP-led NDA.”
Nitish Kumar raised questions about Modi’s package for Bihar. “While I will wait to hear the details of the so-called package announced by Modi, I emphasise (that) special assistance is our right and not a favour,” he tweeted.
And he said if he had to beg for Bihar’s development, he would not mind doing it.
Modi said the central government was formulating special schemes to empower women and Other Backward Classes in the state. He even spoke a few lines in Bhojpuri language while greeting the people.
Modi was earlier received at the Patna airport by Governor Ram Nath Kovind and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He laid the foundation stone of a four-lane road connecting Patna and Buxar.
All private schools in Ara were closed on Monday and Tuesday due to restrictions on plying of school buses on several routes through the town and for security reasons.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his poll promises and said his party would force the BJP-led government to roll back any step taken against farmers and labourers’ interests.
Addressing a small gathering here, Gandhi accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government of slowing down the pace of the country’s progress. “They have changed the parameters to measure GDP growth and it is being questioned.”
Referring to the prime minister’s latest announcement of Rs.1.25 lakh crore Bihar package for changing the face of Bihar, Gandhi said the prime minister moves from one promise to another. “Modiji speaks, people listen and he moves on to the next promise.”
He said the prime minister thinks the world lives on dreams but people shed their sweat to earn a living. “A kind of joke is being made… They are not giving respect to people.”
Gandhi, who is the member of parliament from Amethi, said if the government makes any move to exert pressure on farmers and labourers, the Congress would oppose it. “If they take a step ahead, we will force them to retrace by two steps.” (IANS)