Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday blasted retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju for the latter’s uncharitable Facebook remarks against Bihar. Katju, who is also the former chairman of Press Council of India (PCI), in one of his posts on FB, offered Pakistan Kashmir from India but asked the neighbouring country to take Bihar too. “We offer you Kashmir but you have to take Bihar also. It’s a package deal. Either you take both. Or else, you get nothing,” wrote Katju.
An infuriated Nitish lambasted Katju for his misdemeanour. “Some people, in order to get free publicity, are trying to become Mai-Baap (guardian) of Bihar. Hamare malik hain kya woh jo aisa offer kar diya? (Is he our owner that he made such an offer?),” Nitish questioned. The chief minister recounted the glorious past of Bihar, particularly the contributions of emperor Chandragupta and his chief adviser Chanakya, to drive home his point.
Meanwhile, leaders of all parties, including RJD, Congress, JD(U) and BJP, joined hands in slamming Katju with many of them demanding that the retired judge be booked and tried under sedition law.
“Katju has developed this habit of making unsavoury comments without applying his mind. Actually, he has become mentally bankrupt,” said AICC spokesperson Prem Chandra Mishra. His BJP counterpart Binod Narayan Jha was more scathing. “Notwithstanding his age and stature, Katju should be tried under sedition law, so that it serves as a deterrent for others,” said the BJP leader.
The Nitish-Katju standoff dates back to 2012 when Katju, then PCI chief, had come down heavily on Nitish regime for imposing an unwritten censorship on the media in the state.
“I have been told that most of the journalists here can’t write anything against the Bihar government…and those who dare to write against the present regime, are transferred,” Justice Katju had observed. Then too, Nitish had strongly objected Katju’s “unwarranted” remarks.