Festive Cheer Fails to Mask Alliance Woes as BJP Leaders Skip Dussehra Event Attended by Nitish Kumar

Patna: The rift between the Bihar alliance partners, BJP and Janata Dal (United), came out in the open on Tuesday, when none of the senior BJP leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, turned up for Dusshera celebrations at Patna’s iconic Gandhi Maidan, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was the chief guest.

The chair designated for deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi stayed vacant during the event, fuelling speculations of growing differences between the two parties. Local BJP MLA, BJP ministers and other eminent BJP leaders also chose to give the event a miss.

The official release from the state government said that assembly speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, senior bureaucrats, Patna District Magistrate and other officials were present during the celebrations at the Gandhi maidan.

On Sunday, Union minister Giriraj Singh’s attack on the Nitish Kumar government for its “inept” handling of the Bihar floods had also led to skirmishes between the alliance partners, with the JDU finally hitting back at the criticism.

Singh, who was formerly a member of the state cabinet, said, “Jab taali sardaar ko, to gaali bhi sardaar ko” (the leader gets the praise as well as the blame), when asked about the chief minister and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi coming under attack over the inundation of several parts of the city following torrential rainfall last week.

JD(U), in return, blamed the BJP for the flood situation, saying that two Lok Sabha constituencies of the city and the post of the city’s mayor is with the BJP.

“Ever since the JD(U)-BJP combine has been ruling the state, the urban development portfolio has been with our alliance partner. The Mayor of Patna belongs to the BJP and so do the MPs representing the two Lok Sabha constituencies that cover the district. All the assembly segments in the city have been BJP strongholds since the 19990s,” JD(U) spokesman Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said.

“He (Giriraj Singh) is not even comparable to a speck of dust on Nitish Kumar’s feet. One does not become a leader just by chanting the name of Mahadev (Lord Shiva) every now and then,” JD(U) spokesman Sanjay Singh fumed.

The water level of Punpun and Ganga rivers in Bihar continues to recede even as the death toll rose to 97 from 73 in 15 flood-affected districts of the state, officials said. Other rivers including the Burhi Gandak, Kamala Balan, Baghmati, Mahananda are also showing a declining trend in water level, they said.

The number of dengue cases, too, have seen a sharp rise post the heavy downpour in the state capital, a release issued by the health department said.

The state government has announced that it will organise special health camps on October 10, 11 and 12 at Patna Medical College & Hospital and Nalanda Medical College & Hospital for carrying out free tests for dengue.