Ahead of Shah’s visit, Nitish showers JP’s village with projects

Ahead of union home minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah’s proposed visit to Sitab Diara, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Friday inaugurated a slew of projects for the birth place of Jayprakash Narayan, the late socialist icon whose call for “Total Revolution” in 1970s threw up leaders like CM Kumar, Lalu Prasad, (late) Ramvilas Paswan and Sushil Kumar Modi.

Shah’s proposed visit on October 11, his second to JP’s ancestral village since 2015, has already generated considerable heat in political circles, with CM Kumar himself asking the union home minister to also have a look on the parts of Sitab Diara falling in Uttar Pradesh. The other part of the large village, including JP’s ancestral house, falls in Bihar’s Saran Lok Sabha constituency.

CM Kumar on Friday inaugurated Jayprakash Narayan Smriti Bhawan-cum-library, a road to diara (riverine area) and announced to upgrade the additional primary health centre (APHC) to primary health centre to PHC through video-conferencing and would be visiting Sitab Diara on JP’s death anniversary on October 8.

Speaking at the function, Kumar said he has also written a letter to his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath, requesting him to complete the pending works in Sitab Diara at the earliest.

A copy of the letter was also shared with media persons.

“Sitab Diara, the birthplace of Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan ji, which is situated near the border of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, at the confluence of the Ganges and Ghaghra river in Saran district of Bihar, faces erosion. A need was felt to construct a ring dam (about 7.5 kilometres in length) from the Ghaghra river side for protection of the village from floods. In the year 2017-18, ring dam and other erosion prevention work was started and has been completed in Bihar,” Kumar said in his letter. “But work is pending in the Uttar Pradesh side,” he said.

CM Kumar’s announcement of a visit to Sitab Diara, made days after Shah’s visit to the village was scheduled, signals a clamour by the two former allies, JD-U and BJP, to claim the legacy of the late socialist veteran.

In August this year, Kumar’s party JD-U snapped ties with BJP and formed a new government in Bihar in alliance with RJD, Congress and other parties.

Meanwhile, BJP said it was “purely a political letter aimed at gaining mileage”.

State BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said that union ministry of culture is continuously working for the area’s development. “Many new infrastructure development works have been done and are going on. BJP is committed to the development of the area even further,” he said, and added that work is already under way for construction of roads leading to Sitaba Diara, which Kumar referred to.

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