By Imran Khan
Patna– It’s been three years since they were promised jobs and other benefits, by none other than then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. But for the families of the six people killed in serial blasts at Patna Gandhi Maidan on October 27, 2013, the wait continues.
The promises were made to them by Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, after six persons — Rajnarain Singh, Rajesh Kumar, Bindeshwar Chowdhury, Bharat Rajak, Vikas Kumar and Munna Srivastava — were killed in bomb blasts that rocked the Patna Gandhi Maidan venue, just ahead of Modi’s address at a massive rally there.
The families are disappointed. Neither has any Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader approached them so far, and nor have officials of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) contacted them in the three years.
“We have lost faith in the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who promised a job to me,” Veena Devi, widow of Vikas Kumar, told IANS.
Veena recalled that in the first week of November 2013, Modi himself visited her at her native Nishiza village in Kaimur district and promised to provide a job to her in the same village on behalf of the Gujarat government. He also assured to provide free education to her two minor children, Sakshi and Rishabh, in a Sainik School.
“But, to date, nothing has happened,” said Veena, who has been struggling for her and children’s survival since her husband’s death.
And, why just her? Shankar Razak, son of deceased Bharat Rajak, said “It is useless to talk of the promises made to me and my family by top BJP leaders and Modi himself.”
“I was hopeful and sure to get a job after Modi became the Prime Minister. But I have been waiting for a call from his office for the last three years,” Shankar Razak told IANS.
More or less similar stories were told by the family members of Rajnarain Singh, Rajesh Kumar, Bindeshwar Chowdhury and Munna Srivastava.
“What is the use of talking about it now? The BJP and Modi have forgotten the promises made to us,” a family member of Munna said.
Meanwhile, using the unfulfilled promises as a tool to beat the political rivals with, ruling Janata Dal-United Spokesperson Neeraj Kumar termed the promises made by Modi as “just another ‘jumla’ (rhetoric) like that on ‘kala dhan'” (getting back black money).
“Modi has failed to provide jobs to the families of the six people killed in serial blasts at his rally. It has once again exposed the hollowness of his promises. Now the BJP leaders are trying to play down the issue,” Kumar told IANS.
Neeraj, a vocal JD-U legislator, considered close to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, said the BJP and Modi should explain to the people about the promises made to family members of those killed in the blasts.
“Why are BJP and Modi silent on the issue? Do they forget the promises made to people. Modi must apologise to the bereaved families and the people of Bihar for failure to provide jobs to them,” he said.
Neeraj said it was the BJP and Modi who politicised the serial blasts to garner votes during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and are now not willing to fulfil the promises.
However, senior BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav said family members of the blast victims will be given jobs. “The process has begun for it…we will fulfil the promise,” Yadav said.
Another BJP leader Prem Kumar, Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly, said the party has not forgotten the family members of the serial blast victims. “Whatever promises were made to them will be fulfilled sooner or later.”
During his meeting as well as telephonic interactions with the victims’ families, Modi had reportedly promised jobs, and free education to children. He had personally handed over Rs 5 lakh cheque each to the families of four persons killed, while the families of two others were handed the money later.
Six people were killed and more than 80 injured as half-a-dozen bombs exploded in Patna, most of them in and around the sprawling Gandhi Maidan just ahead of Modi’s address to a huge rally. Most of those killed and injured were activists or supporters of the the BJP.