Seven years after rejecting aid from Gujarat, Nitish Kumar accepts Rs 10 crore cheque as Bihar flood relief aid

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today accepted a cheque for Rs 5 crore from the Gujarat government for flood relief, bringing back the memories of 2010 when he had returned a donation from the then chief minister Narendra Modi, creating a deep divide between the two leaders.

Kumar had also cancelled a dinner for top BJP leaders, who were in the Bihar capital for a meeting of the party’s national executive, as he felt slighted by posters that were plastered across the city thanking Modi for the assistance.

The posters showed Modi and him together.

Today, when Kumar is back in the NDA after a hiatus of little over four year, Gujarat Revenue, Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama handed over the cheque to him for relief work in the flood-ravaged state.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi accompanied the Gujarat minister to Kumar’s 1, Anne Marg, residence where the cheque was handed over to him.

An official statement said the Bihar chief minister thanked and appreciated the Gujarat government for its donation to the chief minister’s relief fund.

“In the time of calamity everybody should display sensitivity and extend a helping hand to the victims,” Kumar was quoted as having said.

Today’s event rekindled the 2010 fiasco when Kumar had returned the Rs 5 crore cheque from Modi, taking umbrage at the posters, which he felt slighted Bihar.

The incident created a rift in the relationship between the two leaders though their parties together ran a coalition government in Bihar for three more years before Kumar goaded the JD(U) leadership to break the alliance with BJP on June 16, 2013, after Modi was appointed the saffron party’s campaign committee chief for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The two estranged leaders forged a friendship once again in July this year when Kumar resigned as chief minister and walked out of the 3-party JD(U)-RJD-Congress ‘Grand Alliance’ over corruption charges against his deputy Tejashwi Yadav and BJP decided to extend support to him.

Chudasama tried to downplay the past controversy.

“Time is mighty and changes very fast…That was 2010 and today it is 2017,” he told reporters after handing over the cheque.

Asked why the Gujarat government had contributed identical amount it had extended for flood relief in 2010, Chudasama said all BJP state governments were contributing Rs 5 crore for Bihar floods.

Sushil Kumar Modi, who was the deputy chief minister also in 2010, tried to play down the controversy, saying “Much water has flown down the Ganges.”

He said the BJP government of Madhya Pradesh has already donated Rs 5 crore for flood relief and cheques from Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Haryana were likely to arrive soon.

Rival RJD attacked Kumar on the issue.

“Listening to which internal voice (antaratma ki awaaz), Nitish Kumar had returned the cheque for Rs 5 crore in 2010,” RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, son of party chief Lalu Prasad, tweeted in Hindi.

“Today, when he received another cheque for Rs 5 crore from the Gujarat government, how helpless, weak and broken Nitishji must be feeling,” Tejashwi, now the leader of the opposition, said in another tweet.

JD(U) spokesman and MLC Neeraj Kumar joined issue with Tejashwi, saying the party had 80 MLAs who should come out and help the flood victims.

“You have abundant wealth which the Enforcement Directorate is seizing. Donate some of it to the victims of floods,” he said.

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