Senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi accused the Nitish Kumar-led three-party coalition government of harbouring a particularly insensitive attitude towards festivals of the Hindus. Modi, who met several families that had lost their kin in Saturday’s mishap in the Ganga in Patna, pointed out a number of instances that he said reflected the government’s lack of interest in ensuring safety at Hindu festival sites.
“The state government spent a whooping Rs 200 crore for Prakashotsav earlier this month, but did not spend a reasonable sum for this Maker Sankranti kite-flying festival. Why is this government not making the best arrangements for festivals of Hindus?” asked Modi.
“He (CM Nitish Kumar) organised lavish arrangements for Prakashotsav and Kalchakra ceremonies. The CM takes credit for the success of both these festivals, but refuses to take the blame for the 24 deaths during the Makar Sankranti festival. The district administration is being made scapegoat,” he told a press conference in Patna.
The state government had organised the weeklong Prakashotsav to mark the 350th birth anniversary of the tenth Sikh spiritual leader Guru Nanak, who was born in Patna. Nearly four lakh Sikhs drawn from across the country and abroad attended the festivities. The Kalchakra ceremonies organised in Bodh Gaya in Bihar are considered an important festival of Buddhists. The Dalai Lama and Hollywood actor Richard Gere participated in the ceremonies that were attended by thousands of Buddists from around the country and the world.
Modi said the 24 people who died in the boat mishap belonged to very poor families. “This also shows how the state government has been careless towards the poor,” he added.
The BJP leader also said top officials of the Patna district administration and police were busy with the political feast organised at RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s residence where the CM and his entire cabinet were present. “The government did not bother to find out if the officials were monitoring arrangements made for the kite-flying festival where close to one lakh people had gathered,” he added.
Modi urged the state government to postpone the proposed statewide human chain scheduled to be organised on January 21 to reflect support of the state’s people for total prohibition that Kumar’s government implemented nine months ago.
“Since there are so many rivers in Bihar and close to 1,000 people die by drowning every year, the government should make a solid plan to curb such losses,” said Modi. “Wearing lifeboats provided by the government should be made mandatory across the state for people travelling by boat. It will also cost the government much less than the compensation it doles out for loss of lives,” he added.