Modi supporters trying to muzzle dissent: Nitish

Last Updated 21 September 2013, 15:43 IST

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar says India could only be governed through inclusive politics and accused BJP leader Narendra Modi's supporters of "trying to muzzle dissent" through social media.

In an interview with Rajat Sharma on India TV's "Aap Ki Adalat" show, Kumar made a veiled attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi but did not name him.

"You can mislead people for some time, but not for ever. People may think that the saviour ('taaranhar') has come. ...An individual is not the main thing. The main thing is what is his thinking, his policies. These were the fundamental issues that we raised," Kumar said.

"This nation can be run only through inclusive politics. India is a big country, it's multi-lingual, multi-religious, there are diversities. Unity in diversity is the main strength of our country... We will welcome one who understands and appreciates this diversity. Only then can there be inclusive development", Kumar said.

He made a veiled attack on Modi supporters for using social media to smother the voice of those critical of the Gujarat chief minister.

He said, "They (Modi supporters) through social media abused a top journalist of Bihar who had criticised Modi's views. They did not even spare Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen and ran a campaign against him on social media. This is a dangerous trend. It's just like the Nazis and fascists trying to muzzle dissent in a democracy."

Asked whether he could be the obstacle in the formation of the next government in Delhi, Kumar said such a claim would amount to arrogance.

"How can you say that? To claim such a thing will be arrogance. It's the people who will decide. Many people live in a world of publicity, there's less of substance and they try to create an artificial wave," Kumar said.

He also spoke about how he was on the verge of going to the Governor and resigning when the BJP in 2010 decided to invite Modi for its national executive meeting in Patna. "It was hardly a 10 minute drive to Raj Bhavan and I was ready to tender my resignation at that time", the chief minister said.

Kumar alleged there is "a clear understanding" between Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and BJP. "Dono ki ek hi boli nikalti hai" (They speak in the same language)."
He said RJD and BJP may go in for "a tactical understanding" during the next Lok Sabha polls to damage his party, the Janata Dal-United.

Referring to Modi, Kumar said his party walked out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) only because the BJP was adamant on raising divisive issues.

"Our alliance with BJP lasted 17 years. This alliance was based on basic issues. It was clearly stated that divisive issues shall be kept at bay. Whenever there is an alliance, one party shows respect to the other and there are some basic understandings, but BJP deviated from that," said Kumar.

The Bihar chief minister said he was deeply pained over the death of schoolchildren in the midday meal tragedy. "We have decided to erect a memorial for the children. We will also build roads and a high school in that village", he said.

According to a release, the interview will be telecast on India TV Sep 21 at 10 p.m. and repeated Sep 22 at 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

(Published 21 September 2013, 15:43 IST)

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