Bihar CM's double-barrelled attack hits Modi, Lalu
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday appeared to take another swipe at his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi, saying that “maintenance of law and order was state government’s responsibility,” alluding to the 2002 riots when the latter was the Chief Minister in the state.
Only a day earlier had BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi sought to remind Nitish that he was the Union Railway Minister in 2002 when the Sabarmati Express was set afire, triggering the communal riots in Gujarat.
Nitish, however, said he was responding to RJD chief Lalu Prasad who had asked “if the Chief Minister was genuinely opposed to Modi why did he not quit as the Railway Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government after the Gujarat riots in 2002”.
“I have given Lalu a point-by-point rebuttal. The job of a Railway Minister is to look after railway safety and the responsibility to look into the problem of public order, law and order belongs to the states,” said Nitish, in his statement.
“Lalu Prasad has a habit of speaking too much. He must be remembering it quite well that when he was the Railway Minister and had said this, he had got into a maze. I had replied to him in Parliament elaborately on that,” he added.
The BJP leadership, which has decided not do anything that would precipitate a crisis although there is tremendous pressure from the party ranks to snap the ties with the JD(U), reacted cautiously to the Bihar Chief Minister’s statement.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain sought to play down Nitish’s apparent jibe at Modi, saying Nitish was merely reacting to questions raised by RJD president Lalu Prasad.
“This has been widely debated in Parliament and the media and the BJP will not say anything more,” he said.
Over the last weekend, Nitish had sought to draw the line for the BJP when he had indirectly told its alliance partner that under no circumstances would it accept Modi as the PM candidate, and that “only someone with impeccable secular credentials” would be acceptable to his party.