Modi reaching out to Patna blast victims poses problems for Nitish

Locked inside one of the railway toilets on Sunday morning on platform No. 10 of Patna railway station, Ainul alias Tariq committed one grave mistake. He was a new Indian Mujahideen recruit and his training in binding bombs had been rushed. He connected the wires the wrong way and set the bomb off, severely injuring himself.

In an adjacent toilet chamber, Imtiaz Ansari, another IM operative, was doing the same. Unnerved by the blast and the cries of the wounded Ainul, Imitiaz ran for his life, leaving his bag with all the bomb materials behind in the toilet. As he ran, a RPF constable who was altered by the noise of the blast, found Imitiaz’s movements suspicious and ran after him.

An injured Ainul was rescued from the toilet and arrested but died today in Patna’s Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

It is to the credit of that RPF constable that it was immediately known that six others had gone to plant bomb in Gandhi Maidan, masterminded by the IM’s Tehseem Akhtar alias Monu. Tough six people have died, over 80 were injured and live bombs were recovered from Gandhi Maidan, the Bihar Police has had no role in either prevention, detection or the investigation.

Like in Bodh Gaya blasts or the IM kingpin Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest, the Bihar police was in an unusual hurry to have this case transferred to the National Investigative Agency (NIA).

The Bihar government’s unease in investigating the case is strange given Chief Minister Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and DGP Abhyanand were already red faced when they were challenged on intelligence input by Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley. Nitish landed in Delhi to personally request to the Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to have notification issued for handing over investigation to the NIA.

One explanation, offered by a section of intelligene and security officers in the state, is that the Bihar police is concerned about a potential minority backlash from arresting and detaining suspects.

Now, to add to Nitish’s concerns, Modi is flying to Patna tonight to commiserate with the families of those who died in the blasts. Modi will be flying straight to Patna after finishing his rally in Pune. His overnight stay in Patna will keep him in news in the state and also give a chance to have a small strategy meet with senior party leaders.

Incidentally, Modi took the decision to visit the victims in consultation with the Bihar BJP unit around the same time that Nitish had landed in Delhi on Wednesday to address a convention against communalism, an euphemism for the initiation of an anti-Modi front.

While the BJP has already made Patna serial blasts a big issue and is targeting Nitish’s ineptness, the JD(U) spokespersons are using all kinds of arguments to suggest that Modi was playing politics with people’s personal tragedies and by visiting Bihar could potentially fan communal tension.

On Saturday morning, Modi will start his day at 7 am by visiting 65-year-old Rajnara Singh’s home in Kamarji village in Gaurichack, 70 km away from Patna. Singh was a marginal farmer with two sons in the army and a third working at a petrol pump. On the fateful day, when he was starting for Patna in the morning, his family tried to convince him not to go as he was not in best of health. But a politically conscious Singh wanted to hear Modi in person. The blast killed him even before Modi could begin speaking at Gandhi Maidan.

Modi’s next stop is in Nitish’s home turf of Ahiapur Musahri village in Nalanda. 28-year-old Rajesh Kumar who died in the blast had done a ITI course and was in a private job. He was visiting home during the festive season and was a self proclaimed Modi fan. He told his family and friends that Modi’s Patna rally was a must-attend occasion for him.

Like Rajesh, Munna Shrivastava was the sole bread winner for his family. His father and mother had died early. He had taken a loan from a bank, bought a Tata Magic and drove it for living. Munna is survived by his wife, a daughter and one younger brother.

Likewise Kaimur’s 28-year-old Vikas Kumar Singh, a contractual assistant statistician with Bihar government, is also survived by his wife and a six-year-old daughter, as well as an eight-year-old son.

He will visit the homes of Supaul’s Bharat Rajak (59) and Begusarai’s Bindeshwari Chaudhari (55) last.

By visiting to homes of these six deceased, Modi will be travelling the the length and breath of Bihar. Though he will not have much time, a Bihar BJP leader told Firstpost that he will try and interact with as many villagers as possible at all these places. In caste conscious Bihar politics, the caste profile of the deceased is also talked about though rather quietly. Of the six dead, three belong to the upper castes, one to the Other Backward Caste, one to the extremely backward caste and one to Mahadalit.

Nitish has been banking heavily on support of EBCs and Mahadalits. Call it the politics of concern, but the BJP has kept the pot boiling for Modi’s visit. The state party leaders have attended funerals of the deceased and compensated the families monetarily (Rs five lakhs to each of blast victims family) and promised to influence job prospects to one from each family in private sector organisations, within or outside the state. The state government too had announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs two lakhs to the victims’ kin.

The BJP is also carrying out an Asthi Kalash Yatra, which will culminate in Patna on 7 November with their ashes immersed in the Ganga.

This time, the Bihar Police and administration is said to be working overtime to ensure nothing untoward happens at places of his visit on Saturday.