Derided often as “mentally and physically tired” by opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, campaigning for next week’s state polls, hit back at his 31-year-old adversary today with some unusual questions.
“He is doing so well… saying such good things about me. He says I am tired,” the Chief Minister remarked sarcastically at a rally.
“You tell us, kahaan bhage phir rahey they (where were you running around)? Where did you stay when you were in Delhi,” challenged Nitish Kumar, apparently referring to Tejashwi Yadav’s long absence from Bihar after his party Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the opposition alliance crashed in last year’s national election.
Mr Kumar continued: “This person is trying to take the place of his father and mother. Does he have any knowledge, any experience at all? We have worked at the centre and in the state. We reduced crime, removed jungle raaj in Bihar. We improved the rate of development in the state. Earnings improved…”
The Chief Minister’s comments highlight the bitterness quotient in the Bihar election campaign, with attacks often turning personal.
Yesterday, Mr Kumar’s rally at Chhapra featured Tejashwi Yadav’s estranged sister-in-law Aishwarya Rai, whose father Chandrika Rai, a long-time Lalu Yadav aide, is a Janata Dal United candidate this time.
Aishwarya Rai, whose marriage to Tejashwi Yadav’s older brother Tej Pratap Yadav and ugly separation played out in the media, was on stage as Mr Kumar recounted her “ill-treatment” by her in-laws.
Heckled by slogans of “Lalu Yadav zindabad“, the Chief Minister lost his temper. “Raise your hand, whoever is speaking such anap-shanaap (nonsense). Don’t do halla (chaos) here. If you don’t want to vote for me, then don’t… The reason you came here… you will destroy the votes of the man for whom you are here,” he shouted.
Tejashwi Yadav, who claims that large crowds at his rallies show public anger against Nitish Kumar, responded to the outburst, saying: “I am again saying Nitish Kumar is tired and cannot handle the state. Mentally and physically he is tired of handling the state.”
Nitish Kumar is fighting for a fourth straight term in the elections to be held on October 28, November 3 and 7. The results will be declared on November 10.