The strained ties between the two ruling alliance partners in Bihar – the JD-U and the BJP – took a turn for worse after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reprimanded cricketer-turned-MP and BJP leader Kirti Azad at an official meeting in Darbhanga by asking him to “keep quiet”.
Kirti, son of Bhagwat Jha Azad who served as Bihar’s Chief Minister, was stunned over Nitish’s rebuke in the presence of government officials. Kirti, an MP from Darbhanga and a member of the 1983 World Cup winning team, wanted to raise some issues related to his constituency in front of Nitish, who had come there as part of his “Sewa Yatra”.
“As a public representative, I wanted to raise certain issues and, therefore, took prior permission from the chief minister but he rebuked me. After a few minutes, I tried to draw his attention again but he got angry and reprimanded me in the presence of senior officials. I was taken aback by his autocratic behaviour,” Kirti said.
Kirti then told Nitish that he (the chief minister) was rude to him.
The BJP MP told the media that in Nitish regime, officials had been ruling the roost and were not concerned about public representatives. “I wanted to draw the attention of the chief minister towards pending projects,” he said.
A senior BJP leader argued that Nitish, who normally maintains his cool even in adverse situation, might have been irked to see posters in Darbhanga in which he was tagged along with Narendra Modi’s photograph.
“Any photograph or poster of Nitish with the Gujarat chief minister is a ‘strict no, no’ for him,” the leader said, recounting how Nitish had cancelled a dinner party organised in honour of senior BJP leaders, including Advani, at his residence in 2010, simply because some local newspapers had carried his photograph along with Modi in full-page advertisements.
Kirti does not rule out the Modi factor. “Either the chief minister was over-worked or was in a bad mood during the meeting. It’s also possible that he might have been miffed over the posters of Narendra Modi in Darbhanga and that’s why Modi ka gussa muj pe utara (reprimanded me due to Modi).
The BJP has not taken it kindly and is planning to take up the issue of Nitish’s (mis)behaviour with the party high command.