Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark that there was something wrong with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s political DNA has sparked a war of words in political circles. In an interview with Ashok Mishra, Nitish said the PM’s jibe was “indecent”. Excerpts:
PM Modi attacked you at BJP’s election rally at Muzaffarpur. Do you expect more political bitterness in the run-up to the state assembly polls?
His (Narendra Modi) tone and tenor was unbecoming of a Prime Minister. I have been watching politics since 1969. In the past, prime ministers have never used such language against their opponents.
What do you have to say on PM finding ‘fault’ in the DNA of your democratic principles?
My father was a freedom fighter. But they (BJP and RSS) had not participated in the freedom struggle. Only such people who have nothing to do with the freedom struggle can question others’ DNA . It is indecent on his part and an insult to Bihar and its people.
The PM tried to make your decision to cancel the dinner for BJP leaders in 2010 a political issue.
The dinner was cancelled in 2010. Why did the BJP fight the state assembly polls under my leadership in 2010?
What are issues of confrontation between your government and the Centre over development?
I do not want confrontation with the Centre. The central government has to take care of economic interests of states. The PM claimed to have benefitted Bihar by devolving Rs 3.75 lakh crore under the 14th Finance Commission as against Rs 1.5 lakh crore under the 13th Finance Commission. But it is a white lie. Earlier, Bihar’s share in the divisible pool was Rs 1, 58,385 crore which was 10.88% of the total share. In the 14th Finance Commission, India’s divisible pool is Rs 40 lakh crore but Bihar’s share is only 9.72%. Bihar will suffer a loss of Rs 50,000 crore in five years.
The PM has announced 30% incentive to investors in special category states. Will it help Bihar?
It is entirely an eyewash. Bihar will be benefitted only when special category state status is accorded to it.
Do you plan to pay back the PM in the same coin?
I do not find myself suitable for such things. RJD chief Lalu Prasad is the most suitable person to give them a befitting reply. Laluji has a peculiar presence of mind.
Former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi reacted sharply to your statement likening him with the mythological character Vibhishan.
Why should I glorify him by drawing a parallel with Vibhishan?
Manjhi was projected as a martyr and a victim of your political cravings by the PM. I have been saying that the Manjhi episode was being scripted by the BJP. I am hardly bothered about the gain or loss of his political actions.
Patna BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha met you after the PM’s function. Will he join you before the polls?
I have a long association with Bihari Babu Shatrughan Sinha who had made significant contribution to Bihar’s growth. But the BJP ignored him as he does not belong to the RSS brand. He is an icon of Bihar and we will meet him in coming days also.
Do you see a conspiracy in the Centre not giving another term to Amartya Sen as chancellor of the Nalanda International University?
Amartya Sen has not been given another term as he follows the ideological school different from the BJP. He should have been given yet another term to establish the university.
Is it a conspiracy by the BJP-led government to impose its views on the budding university?
If the BJP will try to change the basic features of the university, it will lose its importance and the basic concept and purpose will be defeated. It will turn into just another university. But I hope the BJP will not be able to impose its views because the new chancellor George Yeo is also associated with it since its inception. Yeo must have extracted the promise of non-interference and complete autonomy from the NDA government.
The Election Commission has apprehended the use of black money in some constituencies. Do you also perceive such a situation?
The JD(U) has already raised the issue of distribution of sarees from Surat with political messages and images of PM Modi on them. The role of BJP is clearly indicated.
Do you see the role of BJP behind the number of communal incidents going up?
I agree that small and localised communal incidents have increased, especially after the JD(U) decided to sever ties with the BJP. We have tackled them with iron hands.