The incident left Chief Minister Nitish Kumar red-faced who refused to bring back stranded students from Kota. Kumar even objected to the Uttar Pradesh government's decision to bring stranded students back, saying such steps make a mockery of the lockdown necessitated due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Nitish Kumar government has suspended a SDO-rank official after a ruling coalition legislator was given a special travel pass to bring back his daughter who was stranded in Rajasthan’s Kota amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown. The Bihar government has suspended Annu Kumar, Sub Divisional Officer of Sadar, Nawada district, who issued a travel pass to BJP’s Anil Singh who represents the Hisua Assembly seat in the state.
The suspension order was issued on Monday evening after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar following a barrage of criticism from opposition ranks over the permission granted to an MLA while denying help to other students, saying that it would amount to a violation of the principles of the lockdown imposed by the Centre.
Annu Kumar will face disciplinary action for issuing the pass to BJP MLA Anil Singh on April 15, reports said. The government has also decided that the powers to grant such permissions would henceforth rest with the district magistrate.
Anil Singh travelled in his personal vehicle to Kota to bring back his daughter after he was granted a special travel pass, defying the lockdown guidelines. Anil Singh, the MLA who was issued the special travel pass, is the BJP chief whip in the Bihar Legislative Assembly. The legislator claimed that he never used the government car but his private vehicle but confessed that he obtained passes for two vehicles by way of abundant caution.
Former JDU leader and Nitish Kumar’s close aide Prashant Kishor had also raised the issue, claiming that the orders granting a special pass to the legislator were issued by the Nawada SP while the other students from Bihar stranded in Kota have been given a cold shoulder.
“Nitish Kumar had rejected the appeal for help by hundreds of students of Bihar trapped in Kota saying it will be against the dignity of the lockdown. Now, his government has given special permission to a BJP MLA to bring his (daughter) from Kota. Nitish ji, what does your dignity say now?” he tweeted.
अब उन्हीं की सरकार ने BJP के एक MLA को कोटा से अपने बेटे को लाने के लिए विशेष अनुमति दी है। नीतीश जी अब आपकी मर्यादा क्या कहती है? pic.twitter.com/mGy9v0MHQS
— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) April 19, 2020
The incident left Chief Minister Nitish Kumar red-faced who refused to bring back stranded students from Kota. Kumar even objected to the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to bring stranded students back, saying such steps make a mockery of the lockdown necessitated due to the coronavirus outbreak. “Special buses are being sent to ferry students from Kota. This is injustice with the principles of lockdown,” Nitish had told media on Friday, the day his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath deicded to ferry 300 buses to bring back 7,000 students from the state from Kota.
The move by the UP chief minister had drawn praise from Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot who called upon other states to follow suit, while Nitish, a key BJP ally, stood against it. According to reports, close to 150 students have so far reached their homes from Kota on their own in Bihar and have been quarantined. An estimated 8,000 students from Bihar stranded in Kota who were preparing for various competetive entrance examinations.
Nitish Kumar’s inaction had drawn brickbats from the opposition who questioned the government’s lack of intent. “Other states like Gujarat and UP have shown concern over residents stranded outside the state and have taken steps to bring them back home. If BJP-led governments were capable of bringing its people back, what explains the Bihar government’s helplessness,” RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav had said in a statement on Saturday.