In the last two days, I have lost whatever little respect I once had for Bihar CM Nitish Kumar for apparently saving Bihar from Jungle Raj. He has acted in the most callous manner almost scheming to sabotage the opposition’s political rally. This bears immense disservice to Biharis who elected him to represent their state, not just his political party.
First, security loopholes that left Modi and people of Bihar so vulnerable to terror attack. Earlier this month, Bihar CM tried to schedule president’s visit to clash with the rally day that was announced 6 months back. The intention was to cause inconvenience to the people who planned to attend rally from faraway villages across Bihar. Shrewd president Pranab Mukerjee saw through the political games, and didn’t want to be used as a pawn.
Second, dillydallying with granting the permission to host the rally at Gandhi Maidan though the district administration had given its go ahead months earlier. In the last week before rally, Nitish government claimed that another group wanted to take half the ground space for another event at the same time. Finally, sanity took over after outcry.
Third, Nitish turned down Modi’s request for two bullet-proof cars for two hours. It is customary for the host state to provide the state guest with its fleet of bullet-proof cars, whether the guest is an ally or not. This avoids additional hassle for the guest to ship his own vehicles from another state. Nitish turned down the request on the grounds that he had to visit a yoga camp in the same vehicle at the same time. (In a speech today at JDU convention, Nitish revealed that he watched Hunkar rally speech LIVE from home).
Fourth, claiming that he didn’t receive any alert from IB that Modi may be attacked. This is disingenuous for Centre had issued a non-expiring alert to every state government about the danger to Modi’s life the day he assumed the role of PM candidate of NDA. Even in the specific case of Hunkar rally, Arun Jaitley and Home Ministry have shown the alert sent to Bihar government on Oct 23, 2013, four days before rally, on possible assassination attempt. More so, Nitish doesn’t need a Home Ministry alert to realize Modi faces life threats.
Fifth, it is reported that security at the Maidan was so lax that it was a free pass for anyone to enter and exit. Not even minimum checks such as metal detector and sniffer dogs were conducted. The terrorist held has confessed that about 18 bombs were to be placed at several parts of Maidan including near the dias intended to wipe out the entire national and state leadership of BJP. Bombs were placed in the Maidan the very morning 9am on Oct 27. As we speak, live bombs are still being found and deactivated.
Sixth, every JDU leader was deployed in double-quick time to raise doubts in the minds of people about the possible involvement of RSS to divert attention from shoddy policing. Even the terrorist caught admitting to the conspiracy, and IM claiming responsibility didn’t deter these leaders from cracking jokes. Nitish neither came on TV to reassure Biharis that he was in-charge of the situation, nor did he visit Patna Medical Hospital at stone’s throw away from his house.
Seventh, and most disturbingly, Nitish shows no remorse for being so lax in handling the visit of a state guest. So far, he hasn’t talked about what went wrong, was the administration was taken by surprise, are terror victims being compensated by the state, what steps are being taken to prevent recurrence etc. Rather, he has found time a day after terror attack to factcheck Modi’s speech to score brownie points while being economical with truth (http://www.india272.com/2013/10/29/nitish-kumar/). He is all set to leave to Delhi to attend Left’s convention on “anti-communalism” (read anti-Modi) at a time when NSG commandos are still hunting for two missing live bombs in Maidan not yet defused.
What saved the day from a near-certain stampede at Gandhi Maidan was BJP leaders’ presence of mind to allude to firecrackers, Modi’s statesmanly act of not canceling the speech so as to not create panic among 10L strong crowd, the courage and restraint exhibited by Bihari brothers and sisters, and sheer luck. Six lives were still lost in vain. Firstpost writer Sanjay Singh who was at the rally describes it best (http://www.firstpost.com/politics/patna-blasts-showed-modis-leadership-nitishs-ineptness-1198377.html).
Dear Nitish, you are Bihar’s CM and want to be India’s PM, there’s nothing wrong with that ambition. If the CM of any state you visit in the run-up to 2014 follows your script regarding your own security, would you see nothing wrong either? No CM, ally or opposition, would do that. You may want to visit Gujarat yourself to know how a state guest is ought to be welcomed.