Nitish Kumar addresses Sankalp Rally at Didarganj in Patna City on Sunday. Picture by Sachin
Didarganj (Patna), Feb. 16: Nitish Kumar today concluded his Sankalp Yatra with the explicit warning to his cadre and voters that if they failed to give required strength to his party in the Lok Sabha, his opponents would pull down his government.
“Agar Dilli mein hamari pakad majboot nahin hogi to gaadi patri se utar jayegi. Agar hum Dilli mein majboot nahin honge to yeh humlogon ki sarkar nahin chalne denge [If we fail to strengthen our clout in Delhi (read Lok Sabha), the train (government) will derail. If we become weak in Delhi, they (read opponents) will pull down the government],” the chief minister told the crowd at the last stop of his Sankalp Yatra at the Bazaar Samiti grounds in Didarganj on the eastern outskirts of the city, that links his native district of Nalanda and birthplace Bakhtiarpur.
Nitish — probably aware of his minority status in the Assembly in the wake of his parting ways with the BJP and the latter’s proclivity to cash in on his weaknesses with the ferocity of a jilted lover — has repeated such a warning in the last four or five of his Sankalp Yatra rallies. The warning is also interpreted in the political circles here as Nitish’s foreboding that the BJP might engineer an “exodus” in his party with a section of its legislators either quitting or showing the signs of dissatisfaction.
Reduced to 116 in the House having an effective strength of 241, the JD(U) government stands precariously placed — surviving on the support of four Congress, one CPI and four Independent legislators. On the other hand, the BJP has 91 MLAs, constituting a strong opposition by all accounts.
The 22 RJD MLAs might aggravate the trouble of Nitish. Though diametrically opposed to the BJP, they are too hostile to fend Nitish if his government tends to fall.
The top layer of the BJP leadership is silent on the post-Lok Sabha polls strategy in Bihar. But the party cadre are believed to be nursing the desire to see Nitish’s back if they get the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
Nitish, however, found solace in the spirited response from the people at the rally at Didarganj. Thousands of hands went up when the embattled chief minister asked them to take the pledge, “You will ensure all the three Lok Sabha seats in the region — Patna Sahib, Nalanda and Pataliputra — are in the JD(U)’s kitty.”
The JD(U) represents Pataliputra and Nalanda in the Lok Sabha. Actor-turned-politician of the BJP, Shatrughan Sinha, represents Patna Sahib.
Nitish’s rally had pulled around 10,000 people, which was said to be moderately impressive given the smallness of Didarganj and inclement weather (see Metro). Nitish was not off the mark when he claimed it to be a successful rally when most of the people shivered in cold and preferred to stay indoors.
As usual, Nitish launched vitriolic attack on his arch-rival Narendra Modi without naming the latter and the Congress for falling to the “machination” of his another rival, Lalu Prasad.
“If he (read Narendra Modi) believes himself to be a Prime Minister on the basis of poll surveys, he should get a fake Rashtrapati Bhavan erected to take oath as PM,” Nitish said, adding that they (BJP leaders) want to seek votes by stoking communal sentiments. “Stay alert against the rumour-mongers who spread the canard of Lord Ganesh’s statues drinking milk,” he said.
Nitish iterated that it was the BJP that “betrayed” him rather than the other way round. He said: “I had told the BJP leadership explicitly and much in advance that the JD(U) would leave the NDA once it projected a communal prime ministerial candidate. We did what we had been telling all along. They (BJP) did something that was not in the ambit of the common minimum programme that we agreed upon at the time of forging the alliance.”
He attacked the Congress also for putting his long-pending demand for special category status to Bihar in a waste bin under the “pressure” of a leader (read Lalu) who had pathological allergy with development and growth. “The Congress fell prey to the malicious persuasion that I will run away with credit if the Centre accorded special status to Bihar,” Nitish said, obliquely referring to Lalu.
Nitish addressed 12 rallies across the state in course of his Sankalp Yatra that began from a remote Chhangarha village in East Champaran district on December 7. The venture had mixed response. His rallies in Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Gaya, Gopalganj and Mohania drew impressive crowds, while at some other places the response was by and large lacklustre.
The state party chief, Bashishtha Narayan Singh, Patliputra MP Ranjan Yadav, newly elected Rajya Sabha MP Harivansh, party spokesperson K.C. Tyagi and food and civil supplies minister Shyam Rajak were among others on the dais today in Didarganj.