Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday asserted that he attached “no importance” to his administration's uncharitable assessment by Prashant Kishor, who has taken the political plunge giving up his earlier role of a backroom operator for other players.
Kumar was asked by journalists about the remarks of Kishor, who on the previous day launched “Jan Suraaj”, a campaign aimed at providing a political alternative in the state which might, at a later stage, evolve into a party fighting elections.
“I give no importance to whatever somebody says. Only truth is of importance. It is for you journalists to decide whether or not my administration has been able to meet expectations," said Kumar with a smirk.
Kishor had contended that Kumar's administration had brought in economic growth but did not succeed in propelling Bihar for a great leap forward, a reason why the state was still at the bottom in the country in terms of various development indices.
Incidentally, Kishor had also handled Kumar's campaign for the 2015 assembly polls and, upon a huge success at the hustings, was later rewarded by the latter and appointed as an advisor to the chief minister – a cabinet rank post.
The former poll strategist responded to Kumar's statement with a sarcastic tweet.
"Nitish ji is right. Only truth is of importance. And the truth is that after 30 years of rule by Lalu-Nitish, Bihar remains the poorest and most backward state. Its transformation is possible only through its people's collective efforts, with a new mindset (nayi soch)," he tweeted.
The allusion was to the chief minister as well as his arch rival, RJD chief Lalu Prasad whom he had unseated from power and keeps accusing of having ruined Bihar.
Incidentally, the 2015 assembly polls had seen the two arch rivals entering into a short-lived alliance.
The CM, however, ducked queries about Union Home Minister Amit Shah's averment that the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act will be implemented once the Covid pandemic is over.
“This is a policy decision of the Centre which we will look into separately. As of now, our primary concern is that as Covid cases are again on the rise, protecting people against the fresh surge is our priority," Kumar said.
The CAA has been a thorny issue for Kumar's JD(U) which voted in favour of the bill proposing expedited citizenship for non-Muslims fleeing Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan because of “religious prosecution” but has been opposed to a nationwide NRC which the BJP keeps pressing for as a subsequent measure.
Notably, Kishor, who had by then been inducted into the JD(U) and elevated to the post of national vice-president, had adopted a strident stance on the issue of CAA and NRC. It ultimately brought him into conflict with Kumar, who then headed the party, and culminated in his expulsion from JD(U).
Kumar was also asked about the power crisis which has resulted from a decline in coal supplies.
“We will make all possible efforts to alleviate the situation. This crisis is very widespread”, replied the chief minister.