Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has had a ‘Mr Cool’ image for never losing his temper publicly. But in the course of this assembly election campaign over the last week, he has seemed impatient and angry, and has even threatened those who have raised slogans against him at public gatherings.
In the Teghra assembly constituency in Begusarai district Saturday, a section of the crowd raised slogans in favour of Nitish’s one-time ally and rival Lalu Prasad, to which Nitish angrily retorted: “Agal bagal dekh lo aur samajh lo, sab ka hal theek kar denge (Look around you and understand, I will fix everyone).”
He then launched an attack on Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav — who is leading the Rashtriya Janata Dal and its allies into battle against Nitish’s JD(U) and its allies, including the Bharatiya Janata Party — for raising the issue of education, and questioning Lalu and his wife Rabri Devi, both former CMs, for failing to build schools.
“Did they make any schools? Ask your baap (father) and mata (mother). When they were in power, they just kept taking… And when one went to jail, he made his wife the CM,” Nitish said.
Increasingly vicious attacks on Lalu’s family
Nitish Kumar’s attacks on Lalu and family began in a mild manner, but have become more and more vicious — the only common thing being that he has never taken their names.
Three days before the Teghra rally, on 21 October, Nitish was addressing a rally at Parsa in Saran district, in support of his party’s candidate Chandrika Rai, whose daughter Aishwarya has filed for divorce from Lalu’s older son Tej Pratap. A group of RJD supporters in the crowd started raising slogans in favour of Lalu.
Three times, Nitish said “arre kya keh rahe ho (what are you saying)?” and then asked them to get out. He went on to attack Lalu’s family for allegedly ill-treating Aishwarya.
The same day, Nitish faced another hostile section of the crowd in Chhapra, and he asked the police to escort them out. The RJD seethed with anger.
“If we wanted, we could also make public announcements about the family of Nitish Kumar,” said state RJD chief Jagadanand Singh.
A week ago, addressing a meeting in Rafiganj in Aurangabad district, an old man tried to draw Nitish’s attention, but was assaulted by JD(U) supporters and security. In the end, Nitish asked the security men to leave him alone and take his petition.
In Aurai assembly seat in Khagaria district too, Nitish has faced a hostile section of the crowd, but had responded by referring to the 15 years of the Lalu-Rabri regime before his 15 years in power, and said they had turned Bihar into hell, where crime and criminals reigned supreme.
At Bhorey in Gopalganj district, he said: “You have made tall promises (of 10 lakh jobs). How will you get the money for them? Will the new employees be paid from the resources your family created and went to jail?”
Tejashwi reacted to Nitish’s remarks in a tweet Sunday, saying the CM was exhausted and the people were fed up of his stale and boring speeches.
आदरणीय नीतीश जी पूर्णत: ऊर्जाविहीन हो चुके है। उनकी पकाऊ, थकाऊ, उबाऊ, बासी और घिसी-पिट्टी बातों से जनता पक चुकी है।
थक चुके नीतीश कुमार जी वास्तविकता, तर्क और तथ्यों से भाग रहे है। बिहार के करोड़ों युवाओं का वर्तमान और भविष्य बर्बाद कर वो इतिहास के बासी पन्नों को पलट रहे है।
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) October 25, 2020
RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari, meanwhile, said this is Nitish Kumar’s “arrogance” speaking out.
“He has been in power for the last 15 years and does not tolerate any dissent. He thinks that what he speaks is the only truth. He has lost touch with ground realities,” Tiwari told ThePrint.
While opponents say Nitish’s frequent outbursts are a sign of desperation, his NDA partners disagree.
“This is not a sign of desperation — Tejashwi Yadav is making unfounded charges about Nitish’s 15-year regime. It is natural for the CM to remind Tejashwi of the days before he came to power in 2005, when the state was ruled for 15 years by Tejashwi’s father and mother,” said BJP spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel.