Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday hit back at Narendra Modi, comparing him to Hitler and said his desperate dream to unfurl national flag at Red Fort would remain unfulfilled.
Days after Modi launched a no-holds barred attack on him in a Patna rally, he rejected the accusation that he had "betrayed and backstabbed" socialist stalwarts like Jaiprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia. Kumar said Modi neither has "sweetness in his voice" nor "patience" required of somebody aspiring for the top post and questioned his knowledge of history.
"When had I deserted JP's ideology? Just because JP comes in the BJP, he (Modi) made the allegation by linking the two together as it rhymes.... Lohia brought parties together to fight the Congress. The BJP is walking its own path alone. Where is the comparison," he said in his address to his party Janata Dal-United's convention, accusing the BJP of weakening the fight against the Congress.
Modi, the Chief Minister said, believed in repeating a lie hundred times to make it sound true. All this talk about Modi wave is also part of this misinformation campaign and there is no truth in it, he alleged. "His dream to unfurl national flag at the Red Fort would remain a dream," Kumar said.
"It is not just dictatorship. It is fascism and those who believe in fascism, their icon is Hilter. They will do what Hitler did. 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.
Dismissing Modi's barb that he was dreaming to become the prime minister, he asked when did he dream to become the PM but added that such an aspiration was not a bad thing. "Gujaratis are very fond of ice-creams but this sweetness is not visible in his (Modi) speech. He kept drinking water, wiping sweat and cursing me... The man dreaming to be on the country's highest post should be sober, why this unnecessary excitement and hurry?
"You can create hype around an individual but it can't ensure your victory. Bihar's poor will vote for those who fight for them. Those aspiring for the top post must speak sweetly with everybody and take everyone along," he said.
Kumar also picked holes in Modi's references to some of their meetings where he alleged that the JD-U leader was uncomfortable in his presence while sharing a table with him over lunch. "These are incorrect," he said referring to Modi's claim that he had was not taking food and water at a lunch hosted by the prime minister and that the Gujarat leader had to comfort him saying that there were no cameras around. He also dismissed claim that Modi had served Kumar 'khaman and dhokla' to his heart's content after which he had praised the Gujarat chief minister at a lunch in his state years ago.
"When did he host me? What I remember is that I attended the function of the chief justice. He (Modi) was a guest and I too was a guest there," Kumar said. Modi keeps harping about his early days as a tea-seller, Kumar said, adding that he also came from an ordinary family but never made a fuss about it. "I am the son of a freedom fighter. I am also from an ordinary background. I am an ordinary man; anything can be said against me.
"One can't be a backward leader by just being born in such a family. What you have done for backward castes is important. I do not have the experience of selling tea in stations," he said
On Modi's remarks that Kumar had returned the aid for Kosi flood victims sent by Gujarat, the Bihar CM said that in Indian culture one does not praise oneself. "The Gujarat government sent money for Kosi flood victims and then they started advertising that they had helped Bihar. If one helps someone, then it should not be advertised. The cheque was returned and then they encashed it."
Questioning him on history, Kumar said, "I also have knowledge of history. I never left Jaiprakash Narayan. He said I backstabbed JP and Ram Manohar Lohia. In fact JP and Lohia had taken on these forces head on and also forced them into corner. I have never compromised on my principles and followed the path shown by JP and Lohia."
In a point-by-point rebuttal in his 90-minute speech, Kumar said that while speaking against him at the Patna rally, Modi had in his "excitement" given out wrong historical information. Acting like a "knowledgeable person", Modi referred to Chandragupta as great king of Gupta dynasty instead of Maurya dynasty, which ruled from Patliputra, which is now Patna. "The BJP leader in excitement cited wrong history by saying Taxila was a great historical site in Bihar which is wrong as the place is in northwest Pakistan. Chanakya, the great economist who had written 'Arthasashtra', was a teacher there before coming to Patliputra," a smiling Kumar said, adding he had even visited there once.
"King Alexander had never reached Ganga, as he was stopped at river Satluj itself," he said. He urged the people to ensure that communal forces do not emerge victorious. "Let not your difference lead to communal violence. Let the dream to hoist the Indian flag at the Red Fort be a dream only."
Tracing the events that led to the split Kumar blamed the BJP for breaking the 17-year-old alliance with the JDU. "What did we want? We suggested that the leader for the prime minister's post should be someone who is accepted by all, someone who works for all. If you have to win, there should be single target. You (the BJP) have set two targets, one to remove the Congress and the second is to take all the credit. It is wrong to blame us whereas you have betrayed us," he said. "Yesterday you were with me and you would appreciate and praise me. Now that we are not allies and you are finding faults with me," he said.
Kumar took potshots Modi, saying "like his fellow state story teller", a reference to controversial self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, he was also spreading "falsehood" and would meet the same fate. "His famous story teller from his state he is also manufacturing stories and digging out false facts against rivals...he will also meet the same fate," Kumar said. "Along with trying to create an environment in which an artificial wave is being sought to be created, this man is now resorting to false stories and incorrect facts to target his rivals," he said.
Kumar said, "He (Narendra Modi) is behaving like Hitler by propagating fascism" and added that the 120 crore people of the country could never accept a man as their leader who could not do "gale-milne" (greet each other as Muslims do). He blamed the BJP for break up of alliance and said that party went back on its promise that a "divisive" force would not be enforced on the allies.
He said the then BJP president Nitin Gadkari had talked to him promising that this would not happen. "But, he himself was removed from the party chief post," he said.
When Advaniji telephoned me reassuring me what Gadkari had told me, "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 and we decided to walk out of the alliance on June 16." "We had time and again expressed our reservation against imposing a divisive personality and when it was more than clear that the BJP is hell bent on him (Modi) we decided to break ties," he said.
"The JD-U under leadership of Sharad Yadav had organised a massive agitation against Congress on price rise issue which galvanised the opposition and shook the UPA. Visualising that ouster of the Congress-led the UPA was a definite proposition, a section of the BJP leaders thought they can impose a leader to take benefit of this situation and become prime minister," he said. "They spoiled the anti-Congress mood," he said accusing the BJP of betrayal.
Kumar also mentioned about Narendra Modi's dinner story in which he had shied sitting with him on the same table. "The dinner story hosted by the prime minister was concocted as this never happened. Once I shared table with him at a function of former Chief Justice of the Patna high court Justice Bhatt at Ahmedabad and had good dinner of dhokla and ice cream," he said.
Kumar also poked fun at his rival invoking Lord Krishna to forge a connect between Yaduvanshi (Yadavs) and Dwarka in Gujarat. "First they tried to make Lord Rama as their party worker and now trying to do the same in the name of Lord Krishna who could not be confined to a caste or region," he said. He sought to know the vision of foreign policy and economic uplift of the country from the person who aspires to become the prime minister of the country. "The highly decorated plastic cover in which media card (for Modi's rally)was issued was made of China," he said and asked his minister Shyam Rajak to show the cover. Kumar ruled out holding talks either with the Congress or working for formation of third front.
"I am going to participate in the anti-communal rally in which leaders of about two dozen non-Congress and non-BJP parties will participate tomorrow but that it has nothing to do with third front or any other front," he said. Kumar reiterated JD-U President Sharad Yadav statement that the party was busy in strengthening its base for a good performance in the 2014 elections.