A cryptic tweet by chief minister Nitish Kumar triggered a war of words in Bihar and prompted speculation about the alliance between his Janata Dal-United (JD-U) party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad.
After he was asked on Twitter how he would ensure Bihar's development in the RJD’s company, the JD-U leader tweeted: "Jo Raheem uttam prakriti ka kari sakar susang, chandan vish vyapt nahin lipte rahat bhujang. (People with good nature are like a sandalwood tree, which does not lose its fragrance even if snakes surround it."
. @SunilVChandak Bihar’s development is my sole agenda.?? ???? ????? ???????, ?? ??? ??? ?????| ????? ??? ?????? ????, ????? ??? ????? ||— Nitish Kumar (@NitishKumar) July 21, 2015
The opposition BJP picked on the tweet to question the "unnatural alliance” forged by the JD-U and RJD for the upcoming assembly polls in Bihar.
Political observers speculated about the fate of the alliance, with some wondering whether the tweet was a reference to the RJD.
As the speculation gained ground, Kumar clarified that his quoting of the couplet had been misconstrued as a reference to Lalu Prasad or the RJD.
“People have this habit of reading too far. Even when Laluji referred to poison (while speaking of the RJD-JD-U alliance), he had meant he was ready to pick up the gauntlet to stamp out the poison of communalism but the BJP read (that as) a message for me,” the chief minister said.
“Likewise, what I meant by chandan and snakes...was that parties specialising in communalism to vitiate the atmosphere will not affect the development agenda of the JD-U. The JD-U will remain the chandan, not affected by the snakes.”
But the BJP contended that the “snake” mentioned in the tweet was a reference to the RJD.
“What does Nitishji want to convey? That he is ‘chandan’ and Laluji is the snake. What kind of a strange alliance it is. Lalu Prasad says he took poison to accept the alliance and JD-U calls it a snake," said BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
Modi quoted a couplet to counter Kumar: “Sangat se gun hot hai, sangat gun jaat... (One acquires the quality of the company one keeps).”
He said the impact of Lalu Prasad's company “is all too apparent on Nitish” and this was also reflected by the “deteriorating law and order” and poor governance.
“This is an opportunistic alliance solely to stop the BJP and has nothing to do with the state's development," he added.
Modi said the BJP has the 'mantra' to tame the snake and remove the venom to ensure a good life for the people. "Laluji calls Nitishji 'jahar' and Nitishji pays back in the same coin after a few months to call him 'jahar'. Yet, they claim to be together. People will like to keep away from this paradox," he said.
Senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who has been openly critical of the solo campaign launched by Kumar ahead of the polls, said: "Such statements were not good for the alliance. Self-praise will lead nowhere. One needs to be cautious while making such statements.”
The RJD has called for a bandh in Bihar July 27, when the chief minister will release a report card on the five years of the JD-U government.
JD-U leader Vijay Kumar Choudhary sought to play down the matter, saying the report card will be unveiled in the morning while the RJD’s bandh will largely be centred round Gandhi Maidan, where the RJD leader will fast with JD-U president Sharad Yadav.
"Where is the contradiction?" he said.
Earlier, Kumar opted to skip an 'iftar’ party hosted by Lalu Prasad and attend a similar gathering organised in Delhi by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.