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Nitish dismisses speculations triggered by his mention of 'personal friendship' with BJP leaders

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday rubbished speculations that his recent utterances were an attempt to mend fences with the BJP and put pressure on his current allies RJD and Congress.

The JD(U) leader was replying to queries from journalists about the ripples created by his admission of “personal friendship” with a BJP leader at a speech he gave in East Champaran district.

“I felt anguished when I read the reports about my speech at the convocation of Mahatma Gandhi Central University. I wanted to underscore that the then Congress government had wanted to set up a central university only in Gaya but agreed to establish another one in Motihari (East Champaran) at my instance. Work began when the BJP was in power at the Centre. But it remains the fact that the university came up as a result of my initiative”, Kumar said.

The JD(U) leader said he was appalled to see the manner in which his speech was reported in the media.

“I had expressed my disgust later in the day (at the convocation speech of AIIMS, Patna). I feel like speaking to you people for the last time,” he told reporters.

When asked whether he was angry with journalists, Kumar replied, “That is not the case” but added, “As I have always said, the media has been captured (by the ruling BJP at the Centre). I no longer see independent coverage that may not serve the interests of the power that be.”

Kumar also mocked the suggestion of his former deputy Sushil Kumar Modi that the JD(U) leader was trying to “scare and confuse” the Congress and RJD by speaking of “personal friendship” with BJP leaders.

Turning towards his current deputy Tejashwi Yadav, Kumar said, “His father (Lalu Prasad) and Sushil Modi became president and general secretary respectively of Patna University Students’ Union (in early 1970s). I was then an engineering student and canvassed in their favour which helped them garner 450 out of 500 votes from my college”.

“I was really sad when Sushil Modi was not made the deputy CM again (after the 2020 assembly polls). So he is remaining content with saying things that help him remain in the media spotlight. I wish him the best of luck for his endeavours”, Kumar remarked sarcastically.

Holding the hand of Yadav, the JD(U) leader, who had dumped the BJP last year, vowed to defeat the saffron party in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, and said, “We are working together for the progress of Bihar”.

The longest-serving CM of Bihar, who has played a key role in the formation of the I.N.D.I.A coalition, was also asked about how he saw the upcoming assembly polls in five states.

He replied with his stock in trade “janta maalik hai (the people’s will is supreme)”, and added, “My sole concern is working for Bihar and lending my support to whatever is beneficial for the entire country”.

(Published 21 October 2023, 10:45 IST)

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