|Tonga driver Dilip Yadav. Picture by Ashok Sinha
Chief minister Nitish Kumar gave his favourite tonga ride a miss during his two-day stay at Rajgir during the JD(U)’s Chintan Shivir from Monday, leaving charioteer Dilip Yadav (28) crestfallen.
“For the first time since 2005, the chief minister has not travelled on my tonga during his visit to Rajgir. I am immensely sad,” Dilip said. “Lagta hai Nitishji Patna wala ghatna se chintit hain (It appears Nitish is anxious because of the blasts at the rally in Patna),” he said.
The young charioteer claimed that Nitish had visited Bimbisar’s prison, Jarasandh ka akhara, Makhdoomkund and Venuvan in the historic city associated with both Gautam Buddha and Mahavira on his horse-drawn vehicle before becoming the chief minister in 2005.
“My tonga was colourful and horses were robust. These attracted Nitishji. I was on cloud nine to have Nitishji as my passenger. After the chief minister rode on my tonga, I started attracting more passengers. Thanks to him, I have six horses now against three then (in 2005),” Dilip said, standing beside his tonga near the venue of the JD(U)’s Chintan Shivir.
Dilip has “Bibi ho to Karishma jaisi (Wife should be like Karishma)” scribbled on his tonga, christened Rajdhani Express. It is also called Mukhyamantri ki sawari (carriage of the chief minister).
Nitish used to have three companions on Dilip’s tonga — party MP RCP Singh, Nalanda MLA Shravan Kumar and Rajgir MLA Satyadeo Arya of the BJP, then an ally of the JD(U).
Dilip, the “tangewala” of Nitish, precisely summed up the gloom and absence of exuberance on the streets as well as among the party cadre attending the JD(U) conclave.
While Dilip, the owners of the tea stalls in the vicinity of the Dal camp and the JD(U) workers openly came out with the tale of “neglect and maltreatment” increasingly growing under the Nitish’s rule, the concluding session of the Chintan Shivir witnessed an open rebellion on the dais in the presence of Nitish and the party’s national president, Sharad Yadav.
Senior party leader and agriculture minister Narendra Singh attacked the leadership (read Nitish) for allegedly having close relationship with the new entrants at the cost of old colleagues.
“Some clean-shaven people have been warming chairs on the dais, while hundreds of our cadre have been toiling hard in the hinterlands to ensure the success of the party. The leadership must ensure respect to our old and committed workers in the difficult times when we are gearing up to win the 2014 Lok Sabha elections after parting ways with the fascist BJP,” Singh said, obliquely referring to Sanjay Jha, who joined the JD(U) from the BJP recently but is believed to have grown proximity with Nitish and RCP Singh, who resigned as the principal secretary to the chief minister to become a Rajya Sabha MP.
Shivanand Tiwary was even more vocal in his diatribes against the leadership. Obliquely referring to Nitish’s “penchant” for holding durbars with his “newfound cronies”, Shivanand said: “The leadership has failed to build the team of robust cadre. The party lacked in the number of effective candidates to pit against the BJP, having a formidable campaigner in Narendra Modi.”
He pointed out that it would be foolhardy to underestimate Modi.
“Born in a tea sellers’ family, he (Modi) has achieved such a great height in his party. We must be armed with the effective wherewithal to counter Modi,” he added.
While Shivanand’s praise for Modi drew objections from a section of the party workers, he criticised Nitish — present on the dais — for “ignoring” purane saathi (old colleagues) and promoting the new entrants who did not know the “ABCD” of politics.
While these leaders openly spoke against Nitish, a plethora of cadre complained about their neglect in the party. “Susashan mein hum kuposhan ke shikar hain (I am a victim of malnutrition in the spell of good governance,” said a cadre from Gaya.