PATNA/NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday night about the flood in Bihar in which 127 people have died in the last few weeks. PM Modi’s call came the evening before the contentious bill to ban Triple Talaq takes the Rajya Sabha test. Nitish Kumar’s party, an ally of the BJP, is opposed to the bill that seeks a three-year jail term for the husband in cases of instant divorce.
The Prime Minister, who also spoke with Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, tweeted that the centre will continue providing all assistance to the state.
Lalu Yadav’s party, which is in opposition in the state assembly, had launched a vitriolic attack on the BJP and Sushil Modi, over the flood.
Senior Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui had questioned why, despite a coalition government in Bihar, no central minister had visited the flood-hit areas. “Why has no central minister visited flood-affected areas or sent any central team,” he had asked in the assembly last week.
Nitish Kumar replied that so far, his government has asked for only additional teams of the National Disaster Response Force(NDRF), which were provided and that 17 companies are working on the ground to rescue people . Mr Kumar also said that helicopters, which were asked for, too were provided by the centre. As far as a central team’s visit to flood-hit areas were concerned, the Chief Minister said, it can happen only after the state government gives a memorandum which was being prepped.
Relations between Nitish Kumar and the BJP have been strained since the national election, in which the two parties boasted an impressive haul of seats and were almost neck and neck. Nitish Kumar was upset when the BJP offered only one cabinet spot to his party, saying every ally had been offered the same.
But sources in Mr Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) admitted that after the experience of 2017 when, even after PM Modi’s visit to the state during the flood that year and the state seeking funds of over Rs. 6,000 crore, the centre agreed to pay only Rs. 1,700 crore.