Udayavni Special

Adityanath’s move to bring back students from Kota to UP leaves Bihar on the boil

Team Udayavani, Apr 19, 2020, 9:22 AM IST

Patna: The opposition in Bihar mounted pressure on Nitish Kumar after Yogi Adityanath brought back students from Kota to Uttar Pradesh, but the chief minister disapproved of the move on Saturday, saying such steps would make a mockery of the nationwide lockdown imposed in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

At a meeting to review the pandemic in the state that lasted hours and to which the district magistrates and police chiefs concerned were connected through video-conferencing, Kumar reiterated that only social distancing can protect people in this hour of crisis.

Referring to the return of more than 40 people, including students and guardians, from the Rajasthan town earlier this week, which had evoked a strong protest from his government, Kumar said some people did not agree to stay back and hence, had to be brought back.

“We, on our part, did not make them languish on the borders but made arrangements for their journey back home after making them undergo medical tests,” he said.

Now, if those still stranded in Kota start demanding that they too be brought back and states start acting on such demands, it would make a mockery of the lockdown, Kumar added.

He did not mention any state or leader by name, though his comments could be seen as a rebuff to opposition RJD, which came out with a demand earlier in the day that Bihar follow the lead of Uttar Pradesh.

Leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Yadav issued an open letter addressed to the chief minister, wherein he charged the state government with treating its own people like infiltrators and taunted the JD(U) president for looking helpless, despite being an ally of the BJP, which is in power in Uttar Pradesh as well as at the Centre.

BJP leaders, meanwhile, were more circumspect in the midst of the slugfest.

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi issued a press release, asserting that Bihar was leading by example when it came to reaching out to migrants in need of help. He, however, made no reference to Yadav.

The Uttar Pradesh government reportedly sent over 200 buses to Kota to bring back nearly 7,500 students from the state stuck there due to the lockdown.

Thousands of medical and engineering aspirants from Bihar also go to Kota, which is known for its coaching centres for competitive exams, every year.

Yadav, whose RJD is staunchly opposed to the BJP, praised the saffron party’s governments in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh for bringing back stranded tourists from Haridwar and Delhi-NCR respectively, and referred to thousands of pilgrims who have returned to their homes from Varanasi.

“Why is the Bihar government in a state of stupor? Why is it so insensitive towards our migrant brethren and students who are pleading with it to make arrangements for their return?” he asked.

Yadav also slammed the state government for lodging a complaint with the Centre when some students and guardians returned from Kota earlier this week after obtaining permission from the local administration, and wondered how can a government behave towards its own people as if they were infiltrators.

“You are one of the seniormost political figures in the country and are in an alliance with the BJP. But neither your alliance nor your seniority is proving to be of help in this hour of crisis. Why does your government look so helpless and other BJP-ruled states look capable in contrast?” he added.

“If the Centre adopts double standards, please register your strong objection and demand parity. The entire state will stand up in your support,” Yadav said.

Meanwhile, members of the state cabinet, belonging to the JD(U), reacted to the development.

“Dear Sir, will it not be a severe blow to the #lockdown and a mockery of it!

“So far, we’ve done well in containing #COVID-19# compared to many countries owing to restraint & good work of all. Why dilute this? Also has Rajasthan called back all outstation students?” Water Resources Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha said in a tweet.

He was responding to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s tweet that suggested that other states brought their students back home from Kota.

What Adityanath and Gehlot are doing amounts to a mockery of the lockdown, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced while urging the countrymen to stay wherever they were, state Building Construction Minister Ashok Choudhary said, adding that if the Centre is okay with such transgressions, it should rethink about the lockdown.

Information and Public Relations Minister Neeraj Kumar wondered how the Uttar Pradesh government would maintain social distancing. “We have learnt that it will ensure that each of the 200 buses does not carry more than 25 students. Does it have buses large enough to enable the students take seats three metres apart from each other?” he asked.

The leaders of the ruling dispensation also launched a scathing attack on Yadav.

Neeraj Kumar advised the RJD leader to leave his cushy abode in Delhi, come back to Bihar and after spending a week in quarantine as mandated, devote himself to serving the people of the state.

State BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand issued a statement, saying Yadav was ill-informed about the steps being taken by the Bihar government for the migrants affected by the lockdown.

Sushil Modi as well as Anand, however, chose to make no mention of the Adityanath government, which had got the Bihar chief minister’s goat last month when it arranged buses for thousands of Bihari migrants who had stormed the Delhi-NCR border, allegedly at the instance of the Aam Aadmi Party.

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