‘Opposition unity? It is a sham’: RCP Singh stings Nitish Kumar on Delhi visit

Updated on Sep 06, 2022 07:07 PM IST

RCP Singh, one of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s fiercest critic, criticised him for his Delhi visit in the effort to unite the opposition parties ahead of the 2024 elections

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who is visiting Delhi, met several opposition leaders on Tuesday, including CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja and former Haryana chief minister OP Chautala. (PTI)
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who is visiting Delhi, met several opposition leaders on Tuesday, including CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja and former Haryana chief minister OP Chautala. (PTI)

PATNA: Former Union minister RCP Singh on Tuesday ran down his ex-boss chief minister Nitish Kumar’s efforts to unite the opposition parties against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2024 national elections, saying that the talk about opposition unity was a sham and the chief minister was essentially trying to keep himself afloat in Bihar.

“Opposition unity will never be possible… Bihar is struggling with drought and flood, farmers are devastated, and the chief minister is in Delhi on a political sojourn,” RCP Singh said soon after landing at the Patna airport from Delhi.

Singh, who was at one point Nitish Kumar’s closest confidant before a bitter falling out turned him into the chief minister’s most fierce critic, also showered praises on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India leaping past the UK in the final three months of 2021 to become the world’s fifth-biggest economy. RCP Singh, who walked out of the Janata Dal-United on August 6 after being issued a show cause notice for allegedly holding assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, is widely seen to be headed to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Asked if he will join the BJP last month, Singh shot back, “Why not”, and stressed that he was keeping all his options open.

RCP Singh’s swipes at Nitish Kumar come at a time the chief minister is travelling to the national capital. Soon after landing in Delhi on Monday, Kumar met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. On Tuesday, he met Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) boss Arvind Kejriwal.

Kumar’s party has often suggested that the JD-U leader has what it takes to be the prime minister but Nitish Kumar has insisted that he was only interested in uniting the Opposition to prepare for the 2024 battle that could reduce the BJP to just about 50 seats if the opposition parties play their cards right.

RCP jeered at the JD-U’s prime ministerial ambitions for Kumar.

“Imagine, the Grand Alliance government he heads today has 165 members. On that basis, he will not get more than 10 seats to contest in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and how many he will win, only time will tell. Yet, he says he is not interested in becoming the PM candidate, while his party says he is the face of Opposition unity. What has he got to show as his contribution for other states?” Singh asked, suggesting that the new-found focus on uniting the Opposition was just a ploy to deflect attention from core issues in Bihar and “his rapidly dwindling popularity”.

Singh said Opposition unity was quite like “unity of birds” (pakshi ekta) who could fly in different directions.

Singh did not spare Lalu Yadav, the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief either. “Everyone knows whose tune he is dancing to. He has been speaking against me in the legislature and party meetings in a language that shows age is getting the better of him and he has lost balance,” the former JD-U leader added.

Singh also jabbed Nitish Kumar over his signature janata durbar when anyone can come to him for resolution of their problem. “The fact that he has to do ‘janata durbar’ for the last 17 years speaks volumes about the lack of systemic reforms in the state to address people’s issues living in panchayats and blocks. People tormented by the system go to his ‘janata durbar’, as they don’t get any relief,” he added.

Singh said that Nitish Kumar was just trying to avoid facing the reality. “The CM’s cavalcade is being attacked and he is being physically manhandled in a state where he has been CM for over 17 years.

“He has played with the mandate, which was to make Bihar a developed state,” Singh said, contrasting Bihar’s stagnation with the Indian economy which has moved to the fifth spot in the world from tenth in 2014.

“He still has time to first live up to Bihar people’s expectations. He is taking his party workers for a ride. Anyone can be a candidate for the top job in the country, but who gets the honour is decided by the people of the country. But he knows the writing on the wall for him in Bihar,” he added.

Singh, however, was the only Nitish Kumar confidant to take potshots at him.

Election strategist Prashant Kishor, said on Monday that the move for an Opposition coalition will not make much of a difference. “People will decide how much of Nitish Kumar’s credibility remains, but his first priority should be Bihar. People voted to make him the chief minister of Bihar, which remains the most backward state despite his long tenure. Recent political developments in Bihar, I feel, will not have any impact on the national politics,” said Kishor, who is prepping for starting his 3000-km ‘padyatra’ from October 2 from Gandhi Ashram in West Champaran.

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    Arun Kumar is Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He has spent two-and-half decades covering Bihar, including politics, educational and social issues.

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