War of words has started between estranged allies Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar after Modi commented on the slow socio-economic growth of Bihar.
Modi, during a public meeting in Rajkot, had reportedly said that Bihar was at one point of time in history a political and spiritual leader of the country.
But it had slipped into socio-economical backwardness ever since caste leaders took the centre-stage in Bihar, he had said.
Reacting to his comment, Nitish Kumar on Monday slammed him and asked Modi to mind his own business.
Asserting that "Bihar has been the seat of knowledge since ancient times", Kumar said, "He (Modi) should mind his own state. Everybody knows what has happened there. As for us, it's admitted there are problems, whether on the health front, economy or others. However, Bihar has come to grips with its own problems and it does not need advice from anyone".
"We have overcome some problems and will address others. We have progressed despite all our limitations. Bihar cannot be put down. Those who tend to advice Bihar must mind their own backyard first", he added.
Without taking Modi's name, Kumar referred to two vernacular proverbs to apparently rebuke the former for casting aspersions on others when he himself faced crisis in the party and in public life.
When asked to elaborate further, the chief minister quipped that he was not in the habit of making comments about others and left the media persons to interpret his reaction to Modi's comments on Bihar politicians.
"It is for you (media) to interpret my comments", he said.
This war was taken forward by Modi, Nitish fans on Twitter and internet. Twitterati tweeted for and against both the leaders. #NitishKumar was trending throughout the day.
Hindustan Times' readers also expressed their view on the whole controversy, some favouring Modi while others taking Nitish's side. Here are few comments:
Sayaji: Modi is right; Bihar ushered two golden ages in India during 500BCE-500CE: that of Maurya and of Gupta periods with many great spiritual and political personalities. After caste politics took centre stage in the 20th century Bihar is worse off - Lalu Yadav is one of the main representatives of such politics. It is not clear why Nitish took Modi's criticism on himself.
Manish: Modi's comment on Bihar is right. Nitish might be denying the fact, but this is true that Bihar has been ruled by casteist leaders. Nitish is secular, but he surrounded by opportunists.
NRI: Modi is trying to divert attention from rebels within BJP and trying to compete for the PM's slot with Nitish who is a more acceptable face of NDA. It will be India's misfortune if this man ever becomes the leader of NDA.
Trishul: Nitish Kumar got it wrong - His predecessors were casteist and brought about ruin in Bihar. He is a reformer and should take criticism in a positive manner
Krishna: Honestly speaking NaMo is right. His intentions may not be to blame Nitish, but state the facts. Nitish only trying to improve the situation what his spredecessors have spoiled it in the name of Yadavs, Muslims etc. in UP, Bihar etc. Nitish should take pride in th fact that he is giving a new face to Bihar and work in collaboration with like minded leaders else where in the country.
Here are few tweets that will give essence of the 'big fight'.
Narendra Modi vs Nitish Kumar is like SRK vs Salman. Who is no.1 star. I mean No.1 CM. #JustThinking— kundan kumar (@Kundan_Bihar) June 11, 2012
Nitish Kumar is 100 times better than Modi! He has showed development is possible without having blood in hand— Joy (@Joydas) June 10, 2012
Listening to modi's comment I would have expected Lalu Prasad Yadav to get defensive.. Nitish kumar needlessly exposed himself by rebutting!— shilpitewari (@shilpitewari) June 11, 2012
Sanjay Joshi out, Nitish Kumar in. And NaMo continues to get publicity ;-)— jaya(@jaya_888) June 11, 2012
Nitish Kumar's favorite movie - Caste Away— varugheese (@riccu) June 11, 2012
Dismissing struggle against caste oppression in Nitish Kumar's Bihar as caste politics is insensitive. Wasn't expected of Narendra Modi.
— Diptosh Majumdar (@diptosh) June 11, 2012