Patna, Feb 4 (PTI) Deftly side-stepping queries on the face-off between the West Bengal government and the Centre, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said Monday “anything” can happen in the country until the Lok Sabha elections are announced.
He, however, firmly ruled out the possibility of the Modi government making an attempt to dislodge Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee from power in view of the crisis.
Kumar pointed out that unlike in the past, “when Congress governments at the Centre used to clamp Presidents rule at will,” now there were clear guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court.
On Sunday, an all-out war broke out between the Centre and the Mamata Banerjee government, with the West Bengal leader beginning a sit-in protest at a city landmark over the CBI’s attempt to question the Kolkata Police chief in connection with chit fund scams, insisting it stifled the spirit of “Constitution and federalism”.
“What is happening between the CBI and the West Bengal government is for them to explain. I am not in the habit of commenting on others. But this is all a matter of a month or so, until the Election Commission comes out with the poll schedule and model code of conduct comes into force,” Kumar said.
The chief minister was speaking to reporters here on the sidelines of his weekly public interaction programme ‘Lok Samvad’.
Asked whether he would have reacted in a manner similar to that of Mamata Banerjee had the police chief of his state been embroiled in a similar controversy, Kumar asked laughingly “do you think I will have a DGP with such a record?” “An atmosphere of tension and bitterness prevails in the country. And we can witness anything, all types of things, in the next one month. These need to be watched and handled with patience,” he said.
Asked whether he thought such a confrontation between a state and the Centre was detrimental to the integrity of the country, he said that “nobody is concerned about the country. All are interested in votes. But our country is a great one. And it has weathered many odds.” Kumar also disapproved of the refusal by the West Bengal administration to disallow Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from landing his helicopter in Balurghat and Raiganj, which forced him to address the rallies there over telephone.
“We have never heard such a thing. Elected representatives have a democratic right to interact with the people through rallies,” he said.
Asked about the allegations by opposition parties that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre was thinking in terms of clamping Presidents rule in the Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal, the JD(U) chief said “this used to happen earlier when Congress governments imposed Presidents rule at will. We saw that in Bihar in 2005.” Kumar was referring to the controversial decision by the then governor Buta Singh to dissolve the state assembly without giving an opportunity to any of the formations to face a floor test after the elections held in February, 2005 threw up a hung assembly.
Fresh elections were held in November which saw the JD(U)-BJP combine ousting the RJD and Congress from power in the state even as the apex court later ruled that the governor’s action was illegal.
Asked about the bandh called by the opposition parties in the state in protest against the lathi charge on RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha on Saturday, the chief minister said “it was another instance of tensions being created ahead of elections to garner votes.
“I have learnt that the police were provoked to use force and the demonstrators were the first to engage in physical aggression. I have seen many of this type since my student days,” Kumar said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.