After 84 Days Of Social Distancing Amid COVID-19, Nitish Kumar Steps Out

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After 84 Days Of Social Distancing Amid COVID-19, Nitish Kumar Steps Out

Manish Kumar has stayed inside his bungalow in Patna for the last 84 days.


Among his peers, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has probably faced the most criticism for missing in action amid the coronavirus crisis at least when it comes to optics. Mr Kumar has drawn political attacks not only because he avoided any media interaction during the past few months but also because he never stepped out of the his government bungalow on 1, Anne Marg in Patna since March 16.

Under constant fire from the opposition and a realisation that the more he remains aloof, the more he invites criticism ahead of the high-stakes state election later this year, the Janata Dal United leader finally stepped out of his bungalow and drove just 20 meters to the official secretariat "Samvad", which is next to his residence, on Tuesday.

But it was not before Leader of the Opposition, Tejashwi Yadav, tweeted earlier in the day mocking him.

"Respected Chief Minister, in this crisis, you have not been out of your house for the last 84 days to review the healthcare system, the condition of the poor and labourers nor to encourage the people of the state. You are the only Chief Minister of the country to do so. If you are afraid, I will go along with you. But please at least come out," he wrote in Hindi.

"People of the country are saying that the Chief Minister of Bihar is scared. You misuse government machinery and resources and spend hours every day video-conferencing with your leaders, but you have not asked about the general public. Everyone knows the state of your quarantine centres. Wake up now at least," Mr Yadav wrote in a second tweet.

However, several Janata Dal United leaders and senior ministers like Sushil Modi came out in Mr Kumar's support.

"Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister-face of NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in Bihar, has been serving the public for the last 15 years and is engaged in protecting the 12 crore people from every crisis, from floods to coronavirus. Lalu Yadav, who is convicted in the fodder scam and has been in jail for 1,095 days ~CHECK~ how is his political heir, who himself vanished for 33 days after the Lok Sabha elections, was outside the state for 50 days while it went into lockdown, asking for an account from the Chief Minister? Should the Chief Minister have violated the lockdown to pretend to be a messiah? The days of making politics an arena of drama are over," Mr Modi wrote in Hindi.

But Janata Dal United leaders concede that despite working round-the-clock and monitoring the situation on an hourly basis, Nitish Kumar's image has taken a beating amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"Especially if you compare with Chief Ministers of neighbouring states like Yogi Adityanath (of Uttar Pradesh) and a rookie Hemant Shoren (of Jharkhand) as both led from the front," one leader said.

"Perhaps we failed to realise the importance of communications and the over-confidence of Nitish Kumar really boomeranged like his decision to not to pay for trains to Bihar and stop the special trains in March," he added, requesting not to be named.

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