Accused of betrayal, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday hit back at the RJD and Congress saying he cannot be with people who were using secularism to hide their “sins” and wealth earned through corrupt means.
“The mandate is to serve the people and not to profit (Mandate janta ki seva ke liye tha, na ki rajbhog, mewa ke liye). The people’s court is the biggest court and it is my duty to serve them but I can’t serve one family,” Kumar said in his 10-minute speech in Bihar Assembly in support of confidence motion moved by him for his new government with the NDA.
He won the trust vote comfortably with 131 votes against the opposition’s 108.
“People should not teach me lessons on secularism. Secularism is something that can be practised. I cannot be with such people who indulge in committing sins besides amassing property through corrupt means in the garb of secularism,” Kumar said in a dig at RJD president Lalu Prasad.
The JD(U) leader launched the scathing counter after Lalu’s son Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, while initiating the debate as the leader of the opposition in the Assembly, came down heavily on Nitish Kumar, frequently using the word “dhokha” (betrayal) for him for walking out of the grand alliance.
An unfazed Nitish Kumar said, he followed ‘gatbandhan dharma (coalition ethics) and tried to run the government to fulfil the commitment of serving the people.
“I asked him (Tejashwi) to explain the accusations of graft against him but he was not in a position to furnish reply”, he said narrating the events that preceded his quitting the grand alliance comprising the JD(U), RJD and Congress from which he walked away on July 26.
He said that it had become difficult for him to run the government and decided to part ways with the RJD.
“I took the decision in the best interest of Bihar and its development…. Now there is the rule of the NDA both at the Centre and in Bihar and the state will touch new heights of development,” the CM said.
Apparently referring to the RJD and its leaders, Kumar said these people “live in arrogance and delusion” and asserted he would continue to show the mirror to them both inside the House and outside.
On the Congress, whose leader Rahul Gandhi attacked him for ending the grand alliance, Kumar, without taking any names, said during 2015 poll Lalu Prasad was not ready to give them more than 15-20 seats in the alliance and it was he who helped them to contest 40 seats out of which they won 27.
Earlier, Tejashwi hit out at Kumar, alleging that the CM had used him as an excuse to join hands with the BJP again.
“Nitish Kumar could not muster the courage to dismiss me because we have self-respect,” he said.
“Nitish Kumar made me a pawn (mohra) for his image building in politics… The entire episode (of seeking my resignation) was just an excuse by the CM to side with the BJP,” he said.
He claimed that Kumar, whom he referred as his “guru” and “chacha” (uncle), cannot win elections on his own and cited 1995 Assembly polls and 2014 Lok Sabha polls when JD(U) got seven and two seats respectively.
Stating that the CM did not seek his resignation even once, Yadav said that he would have given it a thought had the CM asked him to quit.
“Why did he join hands with us? Was he (Nitish) not aware that there are corruption charges on RJD and Lalu Prasad,” he said.
On the accusation that Lalu Prasad’s “putra moh” (love for his son) led to the collapse of the government, Tejashwi Yadav said, “had it been ‘Putra moh’ I would have been the CM… the government collapsed die to ‘Bhai moh’ (affection for brother).”
In a political circle, Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar are known as “Bade Bhai” (Lalu) and “Chote Bhai” (Nitish).
Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi in his speech hailed Nitish Kumar for taking a call “on a corruption of Lalu Prasad and his family”.
“The mandate to the Grand Alliance in 2015 was against corruption and for good governance and not for accumulating benami property through illegal means,” he said.
“Good governance was not possible in the earlier government with people like Mohammad Shahabuddin and Raj Ballabh Yadav of RJD around,” he said.
The BJP’s Nand Kishore Yadav, Sadanand Singh (Congress) and Mahboob Alam (CPI-ML) also spoke during the trust vote debate.