regular-article-logo Friday, 29 September 2023

Nitish Kumar says no to slogans projecting him as PM

DELHI DIARIES | Opinion of ‘Metro Man’ on Vande Bharat, BJP on a charm offensive and more

The Editorial Board Published 16.04.23, 05:24 AM
Watchful gaze

Watchful gaze

Wait and watch

After meeting the top Opposition leaders in Delhi in order to form a broad-based united front against the Bharatiya Janata Party, the chief minister of Bihar and Janata Dal (United) chief, Nitish Kumar, returned to his home state and requested his party leaders, workers and supporters not to shout slogans or put up posters projecting him as the prime ministerial candidate. “I am praying with folded hands. Please do not raise slogans indicating me as the leader for the Prime Minister’s post. This will trigger useless discussions. We are working to unite the Opposition parties. I do not have any personal desire,” Nitish said at a recent function in Patna organised by the JD(U) on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti. This temporarily put a stop to chants such as “desh ka neta kaisa ho, Nitish Kumar jaisa ho” (leader of the nation should be like Nitish Kumar), but also highlighted a key issue which has been derailing unity among the Opposition leaders: all are vying to be the PM candidate. Nitish is also one of them but thinks it is better to postpone his ambition until the opportune moment. This has got the JD(U) leaders worried. One of them pointed out that it would be difficult now for the party workers to show how much they love Nitish while another sought to know why slogans advocating Nitish for PM could not be raised when the supporters of other Opposition leaders are raising similar slogans.


Critical opinion

Two years ago the saffron party celebrated ‘Metro Man’ E. Sreedharan by nominating him as the party’s CM candidate in the Kerala assembly elections. But now a not-too-old comment of his about the unsuitability of the Vande Bharat Express in Kerala has resurfaced to haunt the BJP. Sreedharan had said that the BJP has been leveraging the Vande Bharat train as a “gift” to Kerala from the PM, Narendra Modi, ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. However, there were some inconsistencies. For example, the train cannot meet its objective of speeding at 130kmph on Kerala’s rail tracks full of sharp bends. As a result, the train can only hit a maximum of 70kmph. Now the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its allies have singled out Sreedharan’s expert opinion to target the BJP.

Close encounter

Leaders across the political spectrum in Bihar have been discussing the increasing encounter killings of alleged criminals by the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh. A senior BJP leader pointed out that long before Yogi, Nitish Kumar had controlled crime in a similar fashion in Bihar during his first stint as the CM between 2005 and 2010. “Nitish is the true encounter specialist. The Bihar Police successfully eliminated notorious gangsters... It was a time terror-stricken miscreants fled from the state. Crime dipped...,” he said. When asked what changed thereafter, he said that it was a question of the government’s will. Could similar steps be taken again in Bihar? “Only if Nitish wishes,” he replied.

Charm offensive

The BJP is on a charm offensive as far as its minority outreach is concerned. What started off with Easter, extended to the Hindu festival, Vishu, when the saffron party leaders met members of the minority communities. BJP leaders also plan to visit Muslim homes during the upcoming Eid al-Fitr. Unsurprisingly, the BJP has claimed that this unusual outreach has got nothing to do with the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Visual spectacle

Unforgettable. Indebted. Grateful. These were some of the words used by the Assam CM, Himanta Biswa Sarma, to describe the recent visit of the PM, Narendra Modi, to Guwahati to inaugurate a slew of projects as well as to celebrate Bihu with the people of Assam at Sarusajai Stadium. The state government had made elaborate arrangements to turn the Guinness World Record-breaking Bihu dance performance, involving more than 11,000 dancers and drummers, and the 5-km roadshow graced by Modi into an electrifying visual spectacle. However, not everyone was happy. The Opposition wanted answers to the promises made by Modi to the Assamese people.

Slip of the tongue

A slip of the tongue made jaws drop during the recent meeting of the Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, and his deputy, Tejashwi Yadav, with the Delhi CM, Arvind Kejriwal. During the meeting, Kejriwal made a passing reference to the communal violence in Bihar. A member of the Bihar delegation then sought to explain in Hindi, but using unsavoury words, how the cops have been cracking down on the Hindutva elements. The leaders present were left speechless for a few seconds before Nitish quickly changed the topic.

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