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regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 May 2024

A little pressure and Nitish Kumar wilted, not cut out for ideological battle against BJP-RSS: Congress

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge ripped into Nitish’s political persona by saying: 'Bihar is the land of great saints, freedom fighters and political stalwarts. Sadly, politics of opportunism and greed has overtaken this land today'

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 31.01.24, 06:23 AM
Rahul Gandhi in Araria, Bihar, on Tuesday.

Rahul Gandhi in Araria, Bihar, on Tuesday. PTI picture

The Congress on Tuesday said a leader who barters his conscience for petty gains is not required in the ideological battle against the RSS-BJP, hinting that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was not cut out for such a struggle as he had wilted under “pressure”.

Addressing a massive public meeting in Purnea, Rahul Gandhi explained how unfit Nitish was for the battle: “Thoda sa dawab padta hai aur U-turn le lete hain (He takes a U-turn under the slightest pressure).” He insisted that social and economic justice were the only real concerns and all other talks were just diversionary ploys, saying: “Nitish Kumar is not required here; we will deliver this.”

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Without showing any bitterness, Rahul referred to a joke in circulation on social media to highlight Nitish’s fickle-minded politics and unpredictability. He said: “Bhupesh Baghel was telling me this joke. After taking oath with the BJP’s support, Nitish left. He realised on the way that he had left his shawl at Raj Bhavan and returned to fetch it. The governor was taken aback, thinking he had again changed sides and wondered: So soon!”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge ripped into Nitish’s political persona by saying: “We are passing through a political phase when big people barter their conscience for petty gains. Bihar is the land of great saints, freedom fighters and political stalwarts. Sadly, politics of opportunism and greed has overtaken this land today.”

Kharge, who could not reach Bihar to address the rally because of bad weather, sent a video message in which he said: “Bihar, which spread light in the world, has become a political laboratory for aayaram-gayaram (turncoats). But our resolve is not going to be affected by small hurdles. Somebody stays or goes away, we are not willing to abandon our value system. We carry the soul of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. We will preserve it till our last breath.”

It is difficult to guess whether Kharge was commenting on the chequered history of socialist leaders who aligned with the RSS by recalling the legacy of Congress stalwarts who never wavered in their ideological position, but he doubtless demonstrated his displeasure with Nitish’s wanton disregard for ideology and principles.

Kharge also contested the JDU’s claim that the Congress had ill-treated Nitish, saying that the party had backed the coalition government to speed up development work and it was the Modi-Shah duo that had played with Bihar’s self-esteem.

While publicly giving vent to their contempt for Nitish’s regressive politics, the Congress took care to hail Lalu Prasad’s uncompromising resistance to the RSS-BJP despite personal sufferings. Kharge referred to central agencies “tormenting” Lalu’s family while state chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh and central observer Bhupesh Baghel stressed the “misuse” of the ED-CBI to harass Opposition leaders. They pointed to the ED’s questioning of Lalu’s younger son Tejashwi Yadav on Tuesday after Monday’s long interrogation of the ailing RJD chief.

Baghel taunted Nitish’s fetish for the chief minister’s chair while in the process “defaming Bihar, which is known for its dedication to principles and lofty ideals”. The RJD representative at the rally, Rajya Sabha member Ashfaque Karim, went so far as to declare Rahul as the prime ministerial candidate. Karim repeatedly said the entire country wanted to see Rahul as Prime Minister. He exhorted the huge crowd to take a vow to make Rahul the Prime Minister.

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