Bihar chief minister puts the prime minister in a fix and assumes the role of savior of state's pride
GN Bureau | August 5, 2015
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has sent a backhanded compliment to Narendra Modi in an open letter to the prime minister while objecting to his DNA remark during a rally in Bihar.
"Your comments on my DNA at a rally recently, has left me and a large section of society deeply hurt," Nitish writes in the letter.
He urges Modi “consider taking back the words” and this “would further enhance the respect people have for you.” With is this request, Nitish has put Modi in a fix and tries to cash in on the pride of Biharis as Bihar prepares for polls in next few months.
"Not just people of Bihar, but even those living outside the state have felt insulted by the choice of your words," the Bihar CM’s letter to Modi says.
Stating that he is writing the letter on behalf of all who have felt offended with his remarks, Nitish says the language used by you is unbecoming of the post you hold.
What did PM Modi say in Muzaffarpur rally last month?
Kickstarting NDA's poll campaign in Bihar, Narendra Modi focussed his attack on former BJP ally. Accusing Nitish Kumar of "back-stabbing" the people of the state, Modi said that there is some problem with his "DNA".
Modi also targeted Kumar for allying with RJD, saying he was trying to drag the state back to the 'jungle raj', and asked the voters to reject such people as they "cannot be trusted" again.
Modi took a dig at Lalu for his comments about "drinking poison", which was made in an apparent reference to his accepting Kumar's leadership. He said while he had chosen to do so for his "vested interest", why was he forcing the people of Bihar to "drink poison" along with him.
"During the last elections, Kumar had said that if he was unable to provide electricity to entire Bihar, he would not come to ask for votes again in 2015...But have you got the electricity? It has not come. But he has come to ask for votes. He betrayed your trust. Forget me, he even back-stabbed you. Such people cannot be trusted again," he said.
He said even George Fernandes, former associate of Nitish Kumar, and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, were not treated well by him even though they had worked shoulder-to-shoulder with him.
"There seems to be some problem in his DNA because the DNA of democracy is not like that. In democracy, you give respect even to your political rivals," he said.
From the day the prime minister made these remarks, the JDU and RJD have been exploiting the issue and have almost made it the election capital. The letter written by Nitish is another one in the series that is expected to escalate further despite the BJP’s damage control acts.
Bihar BJP leader and communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had told media last month that the PM's remark, in fact, referred to the way Nitish Kumar treated George Fernandes, Jitan Ram Manjhi or for that matter even Modi.
State BJP chief Mangal Pandey was also at pains to explain the meaning of the PM's DNA remark, and also tried to corner Nitish for his decision to take the remark and its implied meaning to the people of the state.
"The DNA of Biharis is not of cheating and betrayal. The DNA of Biharis is to give honour and respect, to cooperate and seek cooperation, and also to fulfill the promises made," Pandey said.
Few days back, while addressing a public rally in Bihar, a comment was made by you about my DNA. The issue has been troubling many of us since then. Now, as you are scheduled to visit the state again, I am writing to you on behalf of those who have felt hurt by your statement. Your words have been taken as an insult by a large section of the people of the state and beyond. Most of us also feel that coming from you, the comment is rather unbecoming of the office you hold.
But, this is not the first time that we have faced this. Earlier as well, your colleague and BJP leader, Mr. Nitin Gadkari had said that "casteism is in the DNA of Bihar". Interestingly, these are the same people who reposed their faith in you and contributed towards electing you to the highest office of the country with an overwhelming majority. Ours is the same state that has been the cradle of civilization and has given birth to some of the greatest icons in history. Needless to say, when such statements are made, it weakens the collective faith of people in your leadership.
I am a son of Bihar. My DNA is similar as that of the people of Bihar. Modiji, as you know, my father was a freedom fighter and my mother an ordinary housewife. I grew up in a humble household in rural Bihar. In my 40 years of public life, I have tried to work for the betterment of people following the ideals of Gandhi, Lohia and JP. Most of us feel that these statements, beyond questioning my own descent, have disrespected the lineage of our people and have denigrated the great legacy of the state. This also gives credence to the feeling that perhaps you and your party hold a prejudice against the people of Bihar. I wonder how come the gravity of such statements repeatedly misses your alert conscience.
Therefore, through this letter, I take the liberty to urge you to please consider taking back these words. I have no doubt that this gesture of yours would go a long way in assuaging the sentiments of the people and would further enhance the respect people have for you.
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