In a point by point rebuttal speech, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar made Modi bite the dust.
In his much hyped Hunkar rally, Gujarat chief minister and Bhartiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi slammed Bihar chief minister and his opponent Nitish Kumar with an ease which could discomfort many Biharis.
In order to woo the prospective voters, and sections which may be feeling leaderless due to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s conviction in fodder scam, Modi panned his speech from history of the state to mythological beliefs of the people in the state.
One may have lauded Modi’s thundering speech which was delivered in between the bomb scare at the venue and six earlier blasts, but the facts made his speech a failure.
Two days after his Nitish-slamming speech, JD(U) – the former alliance partner and ruling party – held its party convention at Rajgir. Chintan Shivir, as it was called, saw chief minister Nitish Kumar tearing into Modi’s speech which may have left latter wiping brow sweat.
Starting his speech by condemning the Patna serial blasts and assuring that the probe will be carried out effectively, Nitish took Modi point by point to show him his place.
“Hitler’s propaganda minister would tell a lie hundreds of times and it would seem to be true. The same thing is happening here now,” he said, adding that the talk about a Modi wave was part of this misinformation campaign. “His dream to unfurl the national flag at Red Fort will remain a dream,” he said.
“I was watching his speech live. He kept drinking a lot of water and wiping his sweat. I want to know why there is so much impatience. The man who aspires to occupy the highest post of the country has to be patient… why this unnecessary excitement and hurry?” said Nitish. While he dismissed Modi’s barb that he (Nitish) dreamt of becoming the Prime Minister too, he added, “even if one has such a dream, what is wrong with it?”
Taking a dig on Modi’s statement which said that “Bihar had a golden history where Chandragupta of Gupta dynasty ruled”, Nitish said that Modi lacked knowledge of history. Given the fact that it was Maurya dynasty which had glorious Chandragupta rule over Magadha, Nitish said that Chandragupta of Gupta too was a king but it was Maurya dynasty whose king Chandragupta ruled over Magadha.
Modi in his speech had lauded Bihar for housing ancient universities Nalanda and Takshshila. As Nitish pointed out and we also know, Takshshila is in Pakistan while Nalanda is only in Bihar. Laughing at the misplaced facts, Nitish said that the great Guru Chanakya had come from Takshshila and he had visited the ancient university too.
Using Alexander the great in his speech too became a point of laugh against Modi. Nitish jokingly cleared that Alexander had left from the banks of river Sutlej, but Modi took him to river Ganga.
Targeting Modi’s brand of politics, Nitish asked why he wanted to create “hatred”. “I am told that half of the country’s ice cream is consumed by people in Gujarat, but I often wonder how one who eats sweet things can use such harsh language,” said Nitish.
“I appeal to Hindus and Muslims not to fight each other or engage in riots. The threat of fascism is looming. Get prepared to fight it, be ready to sacrifice your life,” he said.
In the point by point rebuttal, Nitish rejected Modi’s accusation that he had “betrayed and backstabbed” socialist stalwarts like Jaiprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia. “When have I deserted JP’s ideology? … Lohia brought parties together to fight the Congress. BJP is walking its own path alone. Where is the comparison?” he countered, accusing the BJP of weakening the fight against the Congress.
“It was pretty clear that BJP, being the largest party (in the NDA), would field its PM candidate. We wanted a person who could take everyone along… but the BJP thought it could do so all alone,” he said.
He said senior BJP leader L K Advani had called him up before the JD(U) left the NDA, and reassured him on Nitin Gadkari’s “promise” (on possible replacement of Modi as the BJP candidate). “I told him politely, Advaniji now people in your party are not listening to you so there is no basis to continue in the alliance,” he said.
“I am not worried about the consequences… One who is sleeping peacefully alone can be assured that his neck will not be slit. I have full faith in the wisdom of the people of Bihar and these poll surveys should be treated as entertainment,” said Nitish.
On Modi terming him as an “opportunist”, Nitish asked why the BJP did not snap ties in 2010. “I had told Sushil Kumar Modi that it would take one-and-a-half minutes for me to go to Raj Bhawan and tender my resignation. But you needed me then. And you call me an opportunist?” he said.
Nitish also ridiculed Modi for invoking Lord Krishna to forge a connect between Yaduvanshi (Yadavs) and Dwarka in Gujarat. “First they tried to make Lord Rama their party worker, and they are now trying to do the same in the name of Lord Krishna,” he said.
Countering Modi’s claims of hosting him in Gujarat, Nitish said, “It was a dinner at a judge’s place where both of us were invitees”. He also denied Modi’s story of sharing a table with him at a lunch hosted by the Prime Minister. “Such a thing never happened… Jaise ye kahani banawati, hawa banawati… ye kudrati hawa nahi hai (Just as the story is false, the (Modi) wave too is artificial… it is not natural,” he said.
Taking on Modi for frequently playing the EBC card and harping on his early days as a tea vendor, Nitish said one does not become an EBC or OBC leader because of one’s caste of birth. “Charan Singh, V P Singh were not born in lower castes but still championed the EBC cause. Even I am from an ordinary background. My father was a freedom fighter,” he said.
The whole rebuttal has brought us down to one question – is Modi a motor mouth who really speaks without checking on facts?
If one listens to the speech that Nitish and Modi gave separately, will one be able to show continued support to Modi who claims to be a good administrator and yet plays with facts?