Nitish shifts gear, slams Congress

Nitish shifts gear, slams Congress

Two days after the Congress extended its ‘hand’ of friendship and asked Nitish to jettison BJP and join the secular forces, the Bihar Chief Minister on Thursday slammed Congress in no uncertain terms.

“Contrary to media reports, I am not at all getting closer to the Congress,” remarked Nitish after the Budget session in the Bihar Assembly concluded on Thursday.

Nitish’s assertion comes a day when his bete noire and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi claimed that “Gujarat ka karz chuka diya, ab desh ka karz chukana hai (I have repaid the Gujarat debt. Now I have to repay the debt of the nation).”

“Now that it’s almost clear that Modi will be the prime-ministerial nominee of the BJP, Nitish should part ways with the saffron party and join secular forces led by the UPA,” said Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader in the Bihar Assembly Sadanand Singh. “Nitish has always advocated for a secular leader to lead the NDA. And since Modi does not qualify on this parameter, Nitish should jettison the BJP and join UPA,” Singh said stoking old rifts between the Bihar CM and the Gujarat CM.

But Nitish took everyone by surprise when he lambasted Congress as never before and said that the ruling party at the Centre had lost all credibility and, therefore, it should seek a fresh mandate.

“We are always ready for elections. But, I am sure, the Congress won’t go for early polls as it’s a master manipulator in retaining power till its term expires in 2014. After next year poll, I am confident, Congress won’t return to power,” said Nitish, even as his close aides looked at him in utter disbelief.

When reminded that Chidambaram had favourably looked into his demand for special status to Bihar during his Budget speech, Nitish said no one was doing anybody any favour. “Yeh hamari haq ki ladai hai, aur hum lekar rahenge (This is a battle for our rights. We will claim it righfully).”

Nitish assertion on Thursday was all the more puzzling because last year he had publicly said that whosoever (at the Centre) gives Bihar ‘special status’ will be entitled to his support.Making clear that he would continue his alliance with the BJP, Nitish said, “Congress is behind all the ills plaguing the country. And till it rules, there will be no respite from price-rise and corruption.”

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