Lalu attacks Nitish on environment drive, human chain

Patna, Jan 16 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumars ongoing environmental conservation campaign and the state-wide human chain, scheduled three days later, came in for stinging criticism on Thursday from his arch rival Lalu Prasad, the national president of Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Prasad, who is away in Ranchi serving sentences in fodder scam cases, alleged that the Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali drive has, so far, involved irregularities to the tune of Rs 24,500 crore in addition to crores which is likely to be 'splurged' on the 'nautanki' (farce) of the human chain slated for January 19.

The jailed leader, who was seen in public after a long time earlier in the day when he appeared before a CBI court in Jharkhand's capital town, offered his take on his twitter handle which is operated by his close associates.

The witty septuagenarian, who has been known for coming up with parodies, coined a new term 'chhal chheejan ghariyali' to describe his arch rivals environment drive a slang whereby he apparently sought to assert that 'Jal Jeevan Hariyali' was aimed at fooling the people by shedding crocodile tears about environment.

He also alleged that 'Rs 24,500 crore has been looted from the impoverished states workers, youths and farmers' in the name of the campaign, though he did not elaborate on how he arrived at the figure.

Alleging 'wastage of government resources' for making the human chain a success for which 'crores are being splurged', Prasad also dubbed the exercise as an 'attempt to hoodwink the people and legitimize sushasani (one who stands for good governance) which Kumar banks upon as his USP'.

The RJD supremo received a rebuttal from another bete noire of his Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who also holds the environment and forestry portfolio.

A prolific twitter user himself, Modi wrote on the micro- blogging site 'Lalu Prasads comments on the greenery mission of the Bihar government came at a time when he was appearing before a CBI court in connection with the fifth fodder scam case, after having been awarded sentences in four. He made allegations without any proof or evidence. At least he should have seen his own condition at the doorstep of the court'.

The human chain of January 19 aims at showcasing, besides the environment drive, previous initiatives of the Nitish Kumar government like prohibition and campaigns against dowry and child marriage.

Kumar, whose current tenure as Chief Minister ends in less than a year, had first come up with the idea of a human chain in January, 2017 when millions of people were said to have stood across the state - holding each others hands in support of his decision to completely ban sale and consumption of alcohol in Bihar.

All parties in the state, including the RJD, which was then an alliance partner of the JD(U) headed by Kumar, had supported the human chain.

Prasad himself had participated in that human chain event in capital Patna standing next to Kumar in Gandhi Maidan.

The state machinery is faced with making the Sunday event in an election year a success with all parties in Bihar outside the NDA comprising JD(U), BJP and Ram Vilas Paswans LJP having decided to stay away and organizations of 'niyojit' (non-commissioned) government teachers expressing their reluctance to take part in the exercise. PTI NAC SNS SNS

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