Luck saves Nitish Kumar’s Bihar

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.

http://www.niticentral.com/2013/10/30/nitish-owes-modi-an-apology-152349.html

Madhya Pradesh government failures in Datia stampede

The recent MP stampede is a clear case of administrative failure. The police seems to have been taken by surprise by the sheer numbers of devotees on the bridge. Only 60 police personnel were deployed to police a footfall estimated to have crossed 150,000 over several days. A floating rumor of the bridge’s impending collapse, and the presence of tractors, seems to have triggered panic among the crowd. Several people have fallen off the bridge intentionally in order to rescue themselves by swimming in the Sindh river underneath.

To make matters worse, the district collector (who now stands suspended) was on leave that day which has delayed decision-making at crucial moments. The election code of conduct, which entails the state government to seek EC’s clearance, also came in the way of announcing critical relief measures in time.

Post-tragedy, some actions have borne fruits. The police seems to have done a decent job transferring the dead and the injured to the government hospital in Datia district (situated in the remote and backward Jhansi region on MP-UP border). The hospital fortunately had doctors at that time on a Sunday. The tragedy occurred at 9am, and the doctors had post-mortemed about a 100 bodies by that evening. CM took clearance from EC to visit the site to personally monitor rescue and relief. Other ministers and politicians were barred from visiting due to EC code which seems to have in fact helped rescue operations.

Irony: The same place was witness to another tragedy 7 years back. At that time, the river-crossing bridge did not exist. The pilgrims on boat were drowned in the Sindh river due to excess water from the reservoir. As ironical as it sounds, the bridge was built by MP government as a response to that tragedy of drowning.

The following articles list out the failure of the administration at various levels, and the lessons for crowd control at such mass gatherings.

http://www.firstpost.com/india/lessons-ignored-mp-temple-stampede-is-doubly-inexcusable-1171975.html

http://www.firstpost.com/india/mp-temple-stampede-four-lessons-for-authorities-for-future-1170327.html

UPA schemes succeed in BJP states

Today, an Indian citizen has come to this important realization: If my state (unfortunately) has a Congress CM, I get empty words on secularism, garibi hatao, doleouts, price rise, corruption, fear+insecurity, and divide+rule policy. If my state is (fortunately) ruled by BJP, or even a non-Congress-type party for that matter, I can hope to see inclusive development, employment, investment, infrastructure, and more importantly an assurance that the CM understands my problems and sincerely works towards plugging it.

This healthy trend is visible across states in the length and breadth of the country. When Naveen Patnaik saved Odisha lives from cyclone, the people thanked their fate for not having a Congress CM at such a critical time. When Uttarakhand saw its worst ever floods, people realized the biggest mistake of their lives: voting out the efficient and dynamic BJP CM Gen. BC Khanduri just a few months back, and worse, letting SoniaG install a puppet in CM chair.

This is the contrasting state of UPA’s flagship health insurance scheme in Congress and BJP states:

While Delhi has not got going on RSBY, some other Congress-ruled states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have either not implemented it or abandoned it mid-way. Only Assam has worked the scheme well. But the five-year-old scheme with over 3.6 crore members has mostly performed in non-Congress states such as Chattisgarh, Bihar and Gujarat.

Former labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge had complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the Ashok Gehlot government was hurting the RSBY’s prospects. Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra were singled out by Kharge as Congress-ruled states that had taken a lackadaisical approach to the UPA’s flagship scheme.

In the poll-bound 4 states, the status of this project:

  • Congress-ruled Delhi: HALTED
  • Congress-ruled Rajasthan: SLOW
  • BJP-ruled Chattisgarh: SUCCESS
  • BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh: PICKING UP

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/upas-flagship-health-programme-in-poor-health-in-cong-states-hit-under-bjp-govts/1183537/0