‘Yatra went well, stop at that’: Nitish Kumar’s advice for Congress ahead of Lok Sabha polls

Nitish Kumar has a word of advice for Congress ahead of Lok Sabha polls

First Published18 Feb 2023
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (PTI Photo)
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (PTI Photo)(HT_PRINT)

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday said the Congress must not rest on its laurels and make use of the momentum gained during Rahul Gandhi’s 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' in forging a coalition of parties opposed to the BJP.

The JD(U) leader asserted that such a formation must take shape "at the earliest" (jaldi se jaldi) so that the BJP, which has a brute majority in the Lok Sabha with more than 300 seats, could be bundled out for "less than 100" in the general elections next year.

"I would like to tell my friends in the Congress that the Yatra went very well. But they must not stop at that", said Kumar, turning towards former Union minister and senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid at a function here.

The occasion was an "All India Congress" organized by CPI(ML) Liberation, which supports the 'Mahagathbandhan' government in the state from outside, on the theme "save democracy, save constitution, drive out Fascism".

Kumar insisted that his exit from the NDA last year had brought the curtains down on the BJP’s attempts to expand its footprints in the state "but we need to achieve something similar on the national level".

Maintaining that he had no ambitions for himself, the longest serving CM, now 71 years old, said "if my advice is heeded, it will benefit the country" as well as parties facing the heat of the BJP’s near hegemonic status.

The chief minister, who refrained from mentioning the BJP and its leaders by name in his trademark style, said the Lok Sabha polls were an opportunity for 'in logon se mukti' (liberation from these people).

He also expressed concern over rising communal tensions in the country, where "Hindus and Muslims had lived in peace despite the blood-soaked legacy of Partition".

In an apparent dig at the RSS, the BJP's parent body, he remarked "those who had played no role in the struggle for Independence are now trying to rewrite history".

He also made an indirect reference to allegations of the Narendra Modi government’s attempts to stamp out dissent by unleashing central investigating agencies against whistleblowers.

"Jo koi bhi kahta hai kuchh gadbad hai, uske saath kya hota hai (just look at what happens to those who point out anything that is wrong)", said the JD(U) supremo, whose willingness to play a "national role" has fuelled much speculations, though he himself has detested his cadre’s penchant for raising "Nitish for PM" slogans.

Kumar also recalled his visits to Delhi shortly after joining 'Mahagathbandhan' when he met political leaders as varied as Rahul Gandhi, CPI(M) secretary general Sitaram Yechury and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.

Besides Kumar and Khurshid, those who spoke at the function included Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, who belongs to RJD, and CPI(ML) Liberation’s secretary general Dipankar.

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