Hot and happening: Lalu and Nitish make heat wave a political issue

first_imgPolitics in Bihar is getting hotter with Lalu Prasad launching an agitation against the state government after his return from a prolonged stay in Delhi.The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president fired the first salvo by announcing his resolve to hold meetings across the state in the evenings because of the prevailing heat wave. But Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has launched a counter-attack by chalking out a fresh itinerary to travel to the districts and meet people during daytime, regardless of the soaring mercury.Nitish is leaving for a three-day tour to Bhagalpur on Thursday as part of his ongoing Seva Yatra, his statewide tour to get the people’s feedback on public welfare schemes launched by his government. He will subsequently stay in Kishanganj from June 3-5 and visit Bhojpur between June 7 and 9. At all these places, the chief minister will hold public meetings and meet local people during daytime to listen to their grievances.Bihar has been reeling under an intense heat wave with temperatures hovering around 44 degree Celsius these days. The weather condition had prompted Lalu to avoid daytime rallies in the districts he is scheduled to visit over the next few days to revitalise his party and drum up people’s support against the Nitish government.But his announcement gave his political rivals an opportunity to hit out at him. Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said that Lalu had grown old and could not go out to hold meetings under the sun.”Laluji has announced that he will hold meetings only in the evenings,” he said. “On the contrary, the chief minister has been visiting different villages to get the feedback of the people even in 45 degree Celsius temperature.”advertisementLalu, however, dismissed Modi’s criticism. He said that he had decided to hold the meetings in the evening to spare the poor people from the scorching sun. “Nitish travels in the air-conditioned cars but the public remains under the sun all the time,” Lalu said. “He is not bothered about the poor people in the state.”Lalu said that Nitish was being apathetic to the plight of the people, highlighting that there was acute power crisis everywhere in the state, except the VVIP areas of the state capital. “I will have to light up the lanterns in the evenings to hold my meetings,” he added.Lalu said his decision to go out to the districts as part of his party’s agitation against the state government had unnerved the leaders from the ruling coalition. “There is a sense of palpable unease over my return to Patna,” he said. “They are keeping a watch on each and every movement of mine with trepidation.”At the RJD’s national executive committee meeting in Patna earlier this week, Lalu had announced the launch of a statewide agitation against the Nitish government on the issues of crime, corruption and power crisis. He had also called for all the opposition parties to unite against the NDA to prevent split of their votes. But neither have the Congress nor the Left responded favourably to his appeal so far.Nitish has also made light of Lalu’s call for agitation. “I do not want to say anything about him,” he said. “I am afraid he will go back to Delhi, sulking, if I say something. I want him to stay in Patna now.”Lalu had been staying mostly in Delhi since his party’s rout in the 2010 state assembly elections.last_img