Patna stampede tramples Nitish’s governance claims
By Ajay Kumar - PATNA
Published: 25th Nov 2012 12:27:00 PM
Last Monday’s stampede during Chhath celebrations here has exposed the ‘good governance’ claims of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The incident has brought to fore the utter failure of the state administration in time of crisis.
At least 18 people died and hundreds were seriously injured in the stampede on the banks of the river Ganga. The accident took place at Adalat ghat when a makeshift bridge collapsed and unregulated crowd was diverted to another bridge nearby.
Ironically, onlookers and devotees themselves carried the injured and dead to the hospital just a few hundred metres away from the place of accident. “The system to manage the crowd was in the hands of some local volunteers who failed to control such a huge crowd. Some people also complained of a short circuit nearby,” said Ashok Kumar, an eyewitness. “If the arrangement was not up to the mark then why did the government invite people to the ghat putting advertisements in newspapers?” asks Kumar.
The worst was waiting to happen at the hospital. Many doctors were absent due to holiday and those who were available also left hospital in a huff irritated by the relatives of the victims. This prompted many injured to rush to nearby private hospitals.
The chief minister, however, told the media that he could not monitor the government’s preparedness before the festival since he was away on a week-long trip to Pakistan. But the larger question is: why couldn’t he delegate the responsibilities of festival arrangement to his deputies? Was it so necessary to embark on a goodwill visit to Pakistan with key government officials like chief secretary for almost ten days?
Kumar refuted the charge that the tragedy took place due to the collapse of the makeshift bamboo bridge. He said it was because of the stampede and the reasons of it would be probed by home secretary Amir Subhani.
Sensing the public mood against the government, Kumar’s arch political rival Lalu Prasad rushed immediately from Delhi. He demanded Kumar’s resignation on moral ground for the failure of his government to make proper arrangement on the occasion of Chhath.
Reacting to the chief minister’s appeal that politics should be kept out of the human tragedy, Lalu asked as to who have put up photos of chief minister and his cabinet colleagues all over the places on the occasion of Chhath?
Lok Janshakti Party President Ram Vilas Paswan demanded, “A murder case should be filed against the officials under whom the makeshift bridge was constructed.” He also sought a judicial probe into the mishap.
The Chhath incident is an indication that after seven years of Kumar’s ‘good governance’, the administrative machinery of the state on the ground is still functioning in the traditional mode.
- Sunday Standard