Bihar CM Nitish Kumar's choice of words serves as grist to the Opposition’s mill as polls draw near
A delegation of leaders later submitted a memorandum to Governor Lalji Tandon, urging him to direct Nitish Kumar to "withdraw his undignified remarks against the Grand Alliance leaders"
PATNA: The parties in Bihar’s Opposition RJD-led Grand Alliance (GA) have found a new handle to beat Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with as the Lok Sabha polls draw near. They are latching on to certain off-the-cuff remarks of supposed insult Kumar had used for them recently to paint him as a casteist leader.
Hundreds of workers of GA parties along with their leaders took out a march in Patna on Thursday to protest against Kumar’s allegedly derogatory remarks about RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha and Vikashsheel Insaan Party (VIP) chief Mukesh Sahni, both claiming to represent the extremely backward classes. The protesters clashed with police, who prevented them from marching to the Raj Bhawan.
A delegation of GA leaders later submitted a memorandum to Governor Lalji Tandon, urging him to direct Nitish Kumar to “withdraw his undignified remarks against the Grand Alliance leaders, seek apology from the state’s people for such remarks and to use dignified language in future”.
“Nitish Kumar has insulted the democratic tradition of having Opposition parties and also the people of Bihar by speaking with disdain about Grand Alliance leaders, which has exposed his arrogance. He must apologise,” said RJD state president Ram Chandra Purve. He was accompanied by several leaders from RJD, Congress, RLSP, HAM, VIP and Smaajwadi Party (SP).
Speaking at a public event organised by a television channel in October last, Kumar had declined to answer questions about Upendra Kushwaha. When the journalist pressed Kumar to answer if he did not want to remain CM after the 2020 Assembly polls like Kushwaha had predicted, the CM had said: “Please do not take the standards so low”. This had prompted Kushwaha, then a Union minister, to claim that Kumar had insulted him in public. Kushwaha quit NDA and joined GA last month.
GA leaders were angry about Kumar’s choice of words to dub the Opposition alliance as a hopeless group of parties and leaders on Monday. Replying to journalists’ queries, he had said the GA is presenting a rosy picture of itself by “picking up people from the streets” (sadak par se logon ko utha kar shamil kar rahe hain). The remark was widely seen as directed at Sahni, whose VIP had joined the GA a few weeks earlier.
“Dignified beahaviour and speech used to be the hallmarks of Nitish Kumar’s public life. But he has crossed all limits of undignified speech recently, exposing his nervousness,” said RJD state general secretary and former minister Alok Mehta.
But the ruling JD(U) and BJP dismissed these charges. “The GA parties are making such ludicrous charges as they have no political agenda. They have come together because of the narrow personal interests of their leaders,” said BJP leader Nitin Navin.
“In our participatory democracy, Nitish Kumar is among the leaders respected nationally for his special pro-people actions, communication skills and probity. The Opposition parties’ are making a hullabaloo over a non-issue,” said senior JD(U) leader and MLC Neeraj Kumar.