Poll strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor on Monday said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his former mentor, should "quit" for his alleged failure to provide adequate assistance to migrants returning to the state from far-off places, amid the 21-day lockdown.
Kishor, who was expelled from the JD(U) headed by Kumar, two months ago, shared a disturbing video footage on his Twitter handle, where scores of people can be seen cooped up inside a structure, beating their fists against the gates and pleading that they be allowed to go home.
With the hashtag #NitishMustQuit, Kishor wrote in Hindi, "It is a terrifying picture of government's measures to save people from coronavirus infection. Such are the arrangements in place by @NitishKumar to ensure social distancing for those who are reaching Bihar from various parts of the country after enduring untold hardships."
Though the place where the video was shot was not mentioned in the tweet, it has been traced to Sareya in Guthani block of Siwan district where nearly 100 people had arrived on a bus the previous day.
"The video is misleading as no one is held up at the RBT Vidyalaya in Sareya anymore. All migrants were sent off to their respective places late Sunday night," Block Development Officer Neeraj Kumar Dubey said.
He also said that migrants who hailed from "far-off districts such as Madhubani and Sitamarhi" were put up at a school building where the government had proposed to set up a camp for stranded people.
"They had an arduous journey from Delhi. Even after being served food and water they seemed desperate to rush to their homes and were ready to make a dash on foot.
"This could have led to more problems so a padlock was placed on the gates to prevent their exit till vehicles were arranged for ferrying them to their respective places," the BDO said.
The school building had enough space to ensure adequate physical distance, Dubey said.
"But, in sheer desperation, some of them seemed to have gathered cheek by jowl at the gates. It was unfortunate. However, thankfully they are all now at their respective villages where panchayats are ensuring that they are placed under quarantine till the time a medical examination is
conducted," he added.
Meanwhile, senior JD(U) leader and Bihar minister Ashok Choudhary slammed Kishor for his remarks and asserted that "the state government led by Nitish Kumar has been diligently, and effectively, tackling the coronavirus outbreak, placing restrictions on its own even before the
lockdown was announced".
"Even after the nationwide lockdown, Bihar was doing fine until Kishor's current political master Arvind Kejriwal started taking initiatives that created problems. What was Kishor doing, sitting understandably in Delhi, when AAP supporters went around spreading rumours that the lockdown
will last for months together," Choudhary said.
Kejriwal is now putting on a show by asking the migrants to stay back with assurances that he would take care of their needs, after having facilitated a mass exodus from the city, the JD(U) leader said.
Hitting out at Kishor, he further said, "He must remember that he has a long way to go in politics. He must refrain from talking big and, instead, tell the people of Bihar what he has been doing for them in this hour of crisis, having pledged to devote his energies to the state."
In February, Kishor had launched a campaign 'Baat Bihar Ki' which he described as a long-term initiative aimed at training young men and women with an aptitude for politics.