Nitish Kumar feels heat of stranded migrants, students

NEW DELHI: The issue of Bihari migrant workers and students stranded in Kota has rattled chief minister Nitish Kumar, especially since his UP counterpart has managed to tackle this crisis with a fair degree of success. With the state government facing criticism from all quarters, Kumar’s image of providing a powerful administration has now come under question.

Nitish Kumar, known to turn every crisis to his advantage, finds himself at the crossroads once again, and that too in an election year.

This is perhaps the fourth time in the past three years that Kumar has had to face the wrath of the people for being incommunicado. From the Muzaffarpur shelter home episode to the child deaths caused by encephalitis to the Patna floods and now the migrant crisis ––lapses in communication seems to have hit Nitish Kumar’s image.

So rattled was he that he raised the issue with the PM during the videoconference on Monday and read out a portion of the Disaster Management Act highlighting how states were violating the rules by transporting students and workers.

Proactive measures taken by the neighbouring UP government has put Kumar on the back foot. The migrant workers’ issue had surfaced during the first few days of the lockdown and Kumar had blamed the Delhi and the UP CMs for making people come on to the streets. But it was Yogi Adityanath who arranged buses to transport people back to his state and the crowds dispersed within 12 hours.

The Bihar government was left to accept those who came and tried to put them in quarantine near the state borders. It also started depositing ?1,000 in the account of every stranded migrant labour so as to make them stay at their places.

Another big setback came when Yogi Adityanath sent buses to Kota to bring back stranded UP students. Kumar had raised his objections even then saying that it defeated the very purpose of the lockdown.

After UP, MP and Chhattisgarh had sent buses to bring back students from Kota. UP again became the first state to bring back migrant workers and other states followed suit, making it tougher for Kumar.

Meanwhile, in a reply to an appeal in the Patna High Court, the Bihar government filed an affidavit last week stating that it was not possible to bring back labourers and students to the state. However, people’s anger grew manifold when a BJP MLA got special permission to bring back his son from Kota. Bihari students even went on a hunger strike in Kota and all this gave enough ammunition to the opposition. On Tuesday, the HC asked the government to extend all help to students stranded in Kota.

“Our priority has been to save the lives of people and, in the current scenario, it is only when people stay where they are (that this can be achieved),” JDU’s Rajiv Ranjan said.

Source Article