Respected Sri Nitish Kumar jee,
Before we come to matters closer at home, let me first congratulate you on your tremendously successful trip to Pakistan. The local media- no doubt they had been briefed very comprehensively by the PRD – because no local paper or TV channel had sent a representative to cover the visit and yet they had all the details including photographs –of your engagements . Reports tell us that you charmed the audiences in Pakistan and they are now eager to replicate the Bihar growth story. It has now become a habit with you. First it was Mauritius, then it was Bhutan, then China, (I am not sure about the sequence of the visits) and now it is Pakistan. You have indeed done the Biharis and Bihar proud and the rest of the country may soon be envying us because Bihar may be better known than India with serious implications for the conduct of international relations. We all know that you are a very serious contender for the post of Prime Minister, even though in your modesty you have never articulated your desire, but you have been systematically working in that direction. Your priorities of the last couple of years reflect the same concern. But may we humble Biharis, who are not half as impressed as the debonair and sophisticated Imran Khan or the British or American diplomats or even that king of commercials Amitabh Bacchan , the mercenary who never spoke a word without hope of profit or endorsement fee, in all humility remind you that you are not yet the Prime Minister of the country and your pan Indian and global concerns have left us destitute and uncared for. To remind you the state, especially the Kosi area suffered one of its calamities by way of floods in which thousands of people lost their lives and millions their future, while you were exploring investment possibilities in Mauritius . And now while you were away winning the hearts of Pakistanis, many at home are heartbroken at having lost their family members and friends.
Pardon me for being a little less obsequious today because I am distraught with grief and anger. I do not take this calamity as an act of God – I declare it to be a handiwork of the government. Your government a confidence trick with the people; your government instilled in them a false sense of confidence. Your side kick, the deputy CM who basked in authority while you were away, made tall claims about the arrangements. I need not remind you that when it comes to Chath, people take things in their own hands. They have been doing it year after year, because Chath for the Biharis is a serious business not to be left to the government.And chath has been performed with unusual peace and bonhomie for ages. You not only endorsed the assurance of your deputy , you added a touch of levity to it by suggesting a picnic meeting of the cabinet in the diyaras. We all know of your tastes for luxury , for partying and picnicking but it could wait for some less pious occasions .
Meanwhile now that the dreaded incident has occurred the people of Bihar would like to ask you the following questions.
1) What did your government do to ensure the safety of the Vratis? The circulars, orders, instructions should be made public so that the citizens could hold an independent enquiry.
2) What did the state disaster management authority of which you yourself are the Chairman, the post of the deputy chairman is occupied by a retired IAS officer, an IPS officer is a member and several others who have drawn crores of rupees by way of pay and perks- do? The response of the prime responders as well as the contingency plan prior to the Chath should be made public.
3) There are two kinds of statutory enquiries – a police inquiry under the Cr. PC, and a judicial inquiry under the Enquiry Commission Act, everything else can be termed as an in-house fact finding probe with no statutory standing. Is the death of 21 Vrartis
on the holiest of Bihar festivals such a trivial matter? Judicial inquiries have been ordered in Forbisganj and Madhubani, however nominal their value so why is government shying away from ordering such an inquiry?
4) The CM has repeated ad nausiam that the deaths did not occur due to the broken bamboo bridge but because of the stampede. What is the basis of this confident assertion? And in any case if the government has the facts what is the enquiry for? Can the Home secretary do anything other than find the facts to support the conclusion already arrived at.?
5) Given the fact that all the Ghats located on the river Ganga are closer to the PMCH why was the nerve centre of health care activities in Patna in such a state of unreadiness ?What is the role assigned to the PMCH in the disaster management contingency plan ? This question becomes relevant because the health secretary is also holding charge of the department of disaster management.The state government had mobilised resources - men , material , fire tneders , doctors from all over the state to make a JDU sponsored Adhikar Rally a success , why was the government found napping this time round?Who defines the priorities of the government.
6) In fact the departments whose conduct needs to be probed very closely are all headed by the cronies and favourites of the government – the road department, the health department, the disaster management department, the urban development department, the municipal corporation , the home department so it is a foregone conclusion that the home secretary will present a dummy self serving report which will rid the government of any responsibility but it will have no value for the people of Bihar .
7) The opposition after having attracted the media limelight will join the ruling party in various mutually beneficial activities. The way Bihar is developing and the way its fame is spreading our charismatic CM will be one notch closer to the chair of the PM but Chath in Bihar will never be the same again.
R K Singh
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this report are purely those of the author and may not in any circumstances be regarded as the official view of BiharTimes.