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Nitish nixes Cong, ready to fight
BJP Barbs at Modi on eve of poll rally

Patna, March 4: Narendra Modi’s “terrorism” barb torn apart, Nitish Kumar today ruled out any possible alliance with the Congress indicating JD(U)’s go-it-alone mode in the general elections.

On the eve of his Sankalp Yatra to be started from Bagaha in West Champaran, Nitish not only took potshots at the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate but also criticised Ram Vilas Paswan for “shaking hands” with the party.

Barring his unnamed attack on Modi, Nitish sounded strong in his stand on the possible tie-up with the Congress even if it decides according special category status to Bihar. “It’s baseless speculation...there is no truth in this. Sawal paida nahin hota hain (the question does not arise),” he said, on possibility of a JD(U)-Congress alliance.

“There has been no such proposal from the beginning...its unnecessary speculation,” he said, adding that the Congress and the RJD are natural allies. “Whether talks on alliance between them is progressing or not is their concern...we have nothing to do with it,” he said.

About the seat share formula with the Left, he said: “While understanding on seats have been reached with the CPI, the same is in process with the CPM.”

On the other hand, Nitish took a dig at Modi during a government programme here today. “Some people want to give a communal colour to the terrorist attack. Any terrorist activity is a cause of worry. I do not want go into that but what will he say about such incidents in Gujarat? Terrorism is big challenge for us but he is just spitting poison,” he said at Samvad after laying the foundation stone of a road project.

On power, he was quick to point out that he had started when Bihar’s production of power was zero but most of the towns and villages get electricity for 16-24 hours.

On Monday Modi called Nitish a “hypocrite” and questioned claims of development. “It becomes news when power is restored in Bihar,” he said. He also charged the Nitish government of being soft on terrorism.

Apart from terrorism and governance, the issue of backward class would be another issue that Nitish has to face from Modi and his supporters. Modi played the caste card brazenly for the first time in the Muzaffarpur rally yesterday.

Nitish retorted that the BJP is “confused” whether he is from the extremely backward class (EBC) and other backward class (OBC). Rattling out names of VP Singh, Choudhary Charan Singh and JP Narayan, Nitish went on to say that it was through deeds and not by birth leaders are known. “But the counter-attack is weak. Both the EBCs and OBCs see Modi as the person who is going to be Prime Minister. Nitish, to them, is at best the chief minister,” said a JD(U) leader.

The state BJP claims that it has more prominent leaders in the EBCs than the JD(U) and its winning over Upendra Kushwaha has increased its accessibility to a large chunk of backward votes.

The backward caste is one of the most worry-some issue as it involves the core votes of Nitish — the EBCs. On Paswan, Nitish was quite vociferous.

“Paswan went to Pakistan and shook hands with president and said that he resigned after the Gujarat riots but sooner and later people will ask him whether he resigned after the massacre or after his ministry was changed. They just cook up stories. He says riots are taking place in Bihar every month. He is making mockery of himself. At one time, Paswan used to keep a key and used to say that only a Muslim person can become Bihar’s chief minister and look at him now. He has shaken hands with the person who is responsible for taking several lives in Gujarat,” he said.

Political circles point out that Paswan may have a lot to say about Nitish’s relationship with the BJP and why Nitish remained silent for more than 12 years before he remembered Gujarat.

“In fact, we will use Nitish’s speech in praise of Modi which he delivered after 2002 as a Union minister,” an LJP leader said, pointing out that the LJP chief had apprehended this sort of attack from Nitish and Lalu when he joined the BJP and was ready for it.

Incidentally, Modi comes to Bihar on March 10 and 14 to address public meetings in Purnea and Gaya, respectively. In the October 27 Hunkar Rally in Patna, Modi attacked Nitish with half-truths and fumbled in facts.

Nitish made a joke of Modi’s knowledge on history and geography. “But this time, Modi played with popular perceptions like terror attacks, unemployment and caste. It is going to be more difficult to counter,” said another JD(U) leader.


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