Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan has welcomed the Centre’s decision to send a team to review the COVID-19 situation in Bihar, even as his alliance partner and the ruling NDA’s face in the state, Nitish Kumar, has been facing flak over his handling of the pandemic. The timing of Mr Paswan’s statement might rile up the Chief Minister who has been severely criticised for his insistence for assembly election in Bihar in time even as the state is grappling with rising number of cases.
“The spiralling coronavirus cases in Bihar might soon lead to an explosive situation and has become a matter of concern for the people of the state. Keeping in view the circumstances, the Central Government has decided to send a team to Bihar so that the situation can be brought under control,” tweeted Mr Paswan.
In another tweet, he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for sending the central team to help Bihar amid the pandemic.
“I thank the Prime Minister for deciding to send a team to Bihar to bring the cases of coronavirus under control,” read his tweet.
The tweets by the LJP’s young national president came just hours after opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav called the central team’s visit as evidence that the “Nitish Kumar government is manipulating COVID-19 numbers” in the state.
The BJP-led alliance is struggling to hold together a widening rift in Bihar between two key allies ahead of state elections due later this year.
The fissures between the two regional party bosses came into the spotlight recently when Mr Paswan echoed the views of Tejashwi Yadav on holding polls amid the coronavirus pandemic and urged the Election Commission to consider the danger to voters.
A few days ago, election strategist Prashant Kishor had also hit out at his former party chief Nitish Kumar, saying as the state’s COVID-19 situation is deteriorating, this is “not the time to fight elections” but the virus.
The JD(U), however, has been dismissive of the charge that it was insistent on holding assembly polls in time “at the cost of peoples’ lives”, saying conducting elections timely is a constitutional obligation and the Election Commission must take “an independent call”.