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Nitish slams Modi, Cong at Sankalp rally

Prashant Jha, Hindustan Times  Patna, February 17, 2014
First Published: 01:56 IST(17/2/2014) | Last Updated: 01:59 IST(17/2/2014)

A combative Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar fired from the hips on Sunday, mocking Narendra Modi and revealing new details of his break-up with the BJP, besides rubbishing the Congress as a "sinking ship".

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Speaking at the 12th and final Sankalp rally on the outskirts of the state capital, Kumar warned the people to be careful of "rumour masters" and said his decision to break ties with the BJP was due to a "betrayal".

"17 years ago, they (BJP) made a promise to keep controversial issues aside. They also promised me that the controversial person will not be brought to the frontline," Kumar said in an obvious reference to the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Modi.

He disclosed for the first time that BJP leader Nitin Gadkari, as then party president, had made such an assurance to him.

"Then I was told it has become difficult to stop him (Modi). You broke the trust. I had said that anyone who wants to be PM has to unite all elements in society, respect all communities, have an inclusive development outlook, be sensitive to aspirations of backward regions."

He said he did not care if his government remained or not, but would not "compromise on values".

The BJP was a partner in Kumar's coalition government till the JD (U) severed ties with its saffron ally on June 16 last year over Modi's elevation in the BJP to a slot that made the most likely candidate for the PM's post. Modi was named as the party's prime ministerial candidate a few weeks later.

Taking at dig at pre-poll surveys, which have indicated heavy losses for the Janata Dal (United), Kumar said, "Every four days, there is a survey. If you have won in the survey, why participate in the real fight? Go and take oath."

He was caustic about Modi, without naming him. "Now that you are already PM in your head, when are you attacking Pakistan? When are you attacking China which has occupied a large part of our territory?"

Kumar urged voters not to get swayed by provocative rhetoric. "These people divide. They incite confrontation."

Kumar did not spare the Congress either. He claimed a meeting to be chaired by the finance secretary on November 26, 2013 to take forward the Raghuram Rajan committee report -- which had redefined parameters for state backwardness and could have led to Bihar being granted special status -- was called off.

"They put it in cold storage, because their allies told them that JD (U) will get credit. I did not want credit, I was fighting for Bihar."

He hinted that if Congress had given the status, they would be in stronger political footing. "Just see how they are rolling down right now."

Countering the perception that while he is on a strong wicket at the state-level but faces defeat in the coming Lok Sabha polls, Kumar said this was the work of "rumour masters" again.

"This is a life and death battle...Bihar needs to be strong in Delhi to win the special status. That will provide tax concessions to capital, lead to industries and employment."

Now, sanitary napkins for school-girls
From April 1, the Bihar government will provide sanitary napkins to school girls in the state as a part of its campaign to encourage female education.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar got a crowd of thousands to pledge they would send both sons and daughters to school.

"We have provided girls scholarships, free uniform, free textbooks, cycles. From the next fiscal year, we will also provide sanitary napkins to girls in middle and high school so that they can study inns clean, healthy environment."

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