| Chief minister Nitish Kumar at the rally in Begusarai on Wednesday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna, Feb. 12: Chief minister Nitish Kumar today drew an impressive crowd at Begusarai — where he got a jolt when an MLA from its Sahebpur Kalam Assembly segment — Parveen Amanullah — quit the party to join the AAP and questioned his style of functioning.
But contrary to the fear that Parveen, wife of senior IAS officer Afzal Amanullah, might turn the public opinion against the chief minister, at least, in her stronghold of Begusarai, his Sankalp Rally at the ITI ground there drew a crowd, which locals described as “quite huge” in size and composition.
“There were around 70,000 people, including a fair number of youths and women”, a social activist said. Emboldened by the expected presence of the people at the rally, Nitish launched a frontal attack on the communal forces in general and Narendra Modi in particular, without naming the latter.
“Communal forces are trying to destroy brotherhood and amity in society. Stay alert as the development of the state would be the first casualty in the event of breach in social harmony,” Nitish said.
Nitish said they (read BJP) had resorted to betrayal rather than the other way round as being interpreted by them. “We and the BJP were working on the spirit of maintaining social and communal amity. But they (BJP) resorted to the path (projected Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate), which was against the spirit of our alliance, compelling us to break ties.”
Apart from Parveen deserting him, Nitish has another problem to deal with — his newfound partner CPI’s demand to spare the Begusarai seat in the latter’s share for the ensuing Lok Sabha polls. Nitish’s predicament is that he has his party’s Muslim MP, Monazir Hasan, representing it.
The overwhelming presence of Muslims at his meeting might have armed him with the confidence to argue with the CPI that his party was quite popular in the constituency.
Nitish is scheduled to conclude his Sankalp Yatra rally at Didarganj on the outskirts of Patna on January 16. He recalled how his Sankalp Rally that had started from a remote village in East Champaran in November had been quite successful at many places, including Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga and Mohania.
Nitish said: “Some people sitting in Patna and Delhi are of late underestimating us. But the fact remains that the people braving biting cold and inclement weather conditions have turned up at our meetings.” The impressive crowd at Begusarai might have given solace to Nitish on the day when the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate was holding a session over chai (tea) at 36 places across the state with the people through video-conferencing.