Prime Minister Narendra Modi likened Bihar’s RJD-JD(U)-Congress grand alliance on Tuesday to “3 Idiots” coming together and hit back at Nitish Kumar for a sarcastic poem based on a song from the blockbuster, the barbs exposing a long history of mutual animosity.
Modi said the grand alliance was heading for an “impending defeat” in the ongoing assembly polls and advised Nitish to consider a new career as a poet, ahead of the third phase of polling for 50 seats on Wednesday.
“I saw Nitish Babu reciting poetry in front of a few darbaris (hangers on). Wah, Nitish Babu, wah. What great entertainment. He should keep practicing, it will keep him engaged after (the results on) November 8.,” Modi told an election rally in north Bihar’s Sitamarhi.
Hours later, he tore into the Congress’ alleged silence on “corruption” in Bihar, and attacked party president Sonia Gandhi for paralysing Parliament, hobbling the government’s reform agenda.
“I want to ask Soniaji, why is her party blocking the functioning of Parliament and maintaining a silence over a sting operation showing a (now sacked) Bihar minister accepting money?” Modi asked at a rally in Bettiah.
The BJP-led coalition is locked in a tough fight with a grand alliance comprising the Janata Dal(United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress, and the PM repeatedly drew a contrast between the NDA’s promise of “Vikas” (development) and his opponents potential for “Vinash” (destruction).
He said Nitish realised he was ‘losing badly’ and took last refuge in ‘jadu-tona’ – referring to a recent controversy over the Bihar CM visiting a tantric. “But can jantar-mantar be expected to provide electricity, medicines and water in farms?” Modi asked.
The strong language and the ongoing exchange of barbs is the result of a bitter rivalry between Modi and Nitish over the past decade.
For years, observers suggested Nitish ‘dissuaded’ BJP leaders from letting Modi, then Gujarat CM, campaign in the 2005 and 2010 assembly polls, when the JD(U) and BJP were in alliance.
In June 2010, Nitish famously cancelled a dinner hosted for BJP leaders after posters appeared in Patna showing him holding hands with Modi, which he allegedly felt wouldn’t go down well with his Muslim supporters.
Modi’s elevation to the BJP’s campaign chief for last year’s general elections saw the Bihar CM walk out of the 17-year-old alliance in June 2013, only to be decimated in the Lok Sabha polls, managing to win just two seats.
During his rallies, Modi has repeatedly brought up Nitish’s “treachery” and his alleged doublespeak of tying up with former foe Lalu Prasad. “Their game is over. Only the formal vidai (send off) remains”, Modi said.
He also took on the Nitish charge of him (Modi) being a ‘bahari’ (outsider). Modi said it was surprising that the country’s PM, who was a representative of every state, was being called an outsider.
“If anything, it is the misrule of Laluji and Nitish babu that has turned lakhs of Bihari youth ‘bahari’ by forcing them to leave the state for better education and in search of livelihood”, he said.