The Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) says managing Nitish Kumar's election campaign is a labour of love
Some of the more entertaining and perceptive comments and analyses on what the Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi chose to describe as the 'mother of all elections' are seen on facebook and Twitter. Possibly the first assembly election being contested so fiercely on social media, where abuses are being traded with abandon, the discourse is also peppered with humour, sarcasm, wit and more details than traditional media can muster.
A comment over the weekend on facebook from one Rajeev Kumar, for example, read : " BJP needs to score 57 runs in seven balls ( the unwritten allusion is how close it can get)…opening batsmen Giriraj Singh and Radhamohan Singh are back in the pavilion…star batsman Narendra Modi is in the dressing room retired hurt…Jitan Ram Manjhi and Ram Vilas Paswan are batting but are unable to score…coach Amit Shah is frantically signaling to Manjhi to get out ( Hit Wicket) but Manjhi appears oblivious to the advice…BJP seems to be missing the services of Shatrughan Sinha who has been kept out of the team in the wake of charges of 'match fixing' against him…cheer leaders Smriti Irani, Sadhvi Niranjana and Sushma Swaraj are working out a sweat but their efforts are obviously not enough to influence the result…".
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Two days after the eventful Patna rally by Narendra Modi, the Bihar Chief Minister equated his Gujarat counterpart with Hitler and, citing how his followers had attacked Amartya Sen because he praised Bihar, said Modi is a fascist just like the German chancellor.
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Like Hitler's information minister, Joseph Goebbels, Nitish Kumar said, Modi too believes in repeating lies a hundred times so that they would begin to sound like the truth.
Nitish Kumar then went on to demolish some of the utterances by Mr Modi:
A speech made by Nitish Kumar, then the Union railway minister, at Adipur, Kutch, while inaugurating a railway project in December, 2003, praising the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a potential national leader, a development-oriented politician and asking people move beyond the past.
“I hope Narendra Modi won’t be confined to Gujarat for long and the nation will get his services.”
“I want to congratulate Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Lots of work has been done in Gujarat, but a different image about the state and about Narendra bhai has been created outside the state. The work in the state isn’t publicised the way it should be,” Kumar went on.
“What happened (in 2002) was a blot. But it’s not good if we remember just that and forget other things that are happening.”
“I congratulate Narendra Bhai. Gujarat’s development is helpful for India and if Gujarat develops the nation will also develop".
“When there was tension in 2002 Nitish Kumar was with us. When there is peace now, he is parting with us,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
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"We have a number of CDs in which (Nitish) Kumar has publicly and uninhibitedly praised his Gujarat counterpart and even praised him to the effect that his services and leadership will be beneficial to the country... We have collected all these CDs for display before the people of Bihar so that his duplicity could be exposed thoroughly," BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi told reporters, a day after the BJP and the JD(U) parted ways.
BJP leaders say they will visit villages and all nooks and corners of Bihar and play all the CDs in which Mr Kumar had praised the Gujarat Chief Minister on several occasions since the post-Godhra riots.
Sushil Kumar Modi said Nitish Kumar, at a function in Kutch on December 13, 2003, "had downplayed the Gujarat riots a year earlier and said the impressive development in that state should get precedence over the incident which should be buried once and for all."
Defending himself, the Bihar Chief Minister, who was the Railway Minister at that time, cited protocol issues for his remarks.
"The protocol says that in government functions a union minister is not supposed to criticise a state government... As a union minister are we supposed to make political speech at an official function?" he asked.
"When I used to visit other states as a railway minister, those speeches were never political. It's part of the protocol to praise the host state and not to speak against them," the Bihar Chief Minister added.
Dismissing Nitish Kumar's defence that his praise of Narendra Modi was for the sake of protocol, Sushil Kumar Modi, the former Deputy Chief Minister said, "One sticks to agenda of a particular function in making a speech at an official function and does not talk of sensitive issues and make motivational remarks asking a leader to play a national role."
"The BJP has decided to give a national role to Modi in 2013, but Nitish Kumar had forecast a bigger role for the Gujarat Chief Minister a decade back," he said.
Nitish Kumar's 2003 speech in praise of Narendra Modi is not the only one and BJP has collected many more CDs, which it will play before the people in Bihar and outside to expose his duplicity, he added.
The NDA is unable to come up with the name of an acceptable name for the presidential contest against UPA's Pranab Mukherjee. The Bihar chief minister has set the cat amongst the pigeons by bringing up the question of who should be NDA's candidate for Prime Minister instead. It should be someone secular, he feels, and Bihar's deputy CM, BJP's Sushil Kumar Modi agrees. So never mind the presidency, who do you think should lead the NDA in the next Lok Sabha elections as its PM candidate?
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Excerpts from Nitish Kumar's interview to the Economic Times:
You have recently said that the next prime minister should have secular credentials. Was your comment aimed at nudging your coalition partner, BJP, to name NDA's next prime ministerial candidate?
I have explained my preference for the leader. We have projected our prime ministerial candidate in every election since 1996. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the NDA's prime ministerial nominee in 1996 and 1998. The alliance projected Atalji again in 1999 and 2004. And it was Advaniji in 2009. The NDA will have to declare its nominee. The electorate should know who they are voting for and who will lead the country. The NDA should have a leader who can feel for the underdeveloped states like Bihar. It should not be someone who can develop developed states, but who has a feel for underdeveloped states.
Do you think it is already time for NDA to name its candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls?
NDA should declare its candidate in advance. This leader should be acceptable to every constituent of the alliance. To me, the leader of the coalition should have secular credentials. It should be someone who has absolute faith in democratic values. In a multi-religious and multi-lingual country like ours, the leader should not have rough edges in his personality. An alliance can win the confidence of the people only if the leader is seen as accommodating....
You have declared Bihar out of bounds for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi...
BJP has capable leaders in Bihar to lead the alliance's campaign. We have been doing it since 1996. We don't need external assistance. We have bettered our performance in every election since 1996. I have cordial relations with Bihar BJP. But if someone is bent on spoiling this relationship, I cannot help.
Read Nitish Kumar's full interview at the Economic Times
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