Murdering Me Politically: Nitish on Reports About Moving Closer to Modi
A TV grab of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. (CNN-News18)
The normally soft-spoken Nitish Kumar was in a foul mood on Monday. "This is murdering me politcally. What do you get out of this? This is not journalism, it is yellow journalism," he screamed.
In his firing line were journalists who, according to him, planted stories to damage his political credentials. The five journalists sitting in his official Bihar Vidhan Sabha chamber, including this reporter, became punching bags for the day.
It’s rare to see Nitish fuming. Disgust, anger, frustration - all were evident as he spoke in a cold bitter manner, putting forth his counter-arguments.
"If it was any state other than Bihar an FIR would be filed against such journalists and they will be sent to jail. But I am a democratic man. I won't do such things," he said.
The issue was his open support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation drive. The way he minced no words in supporting this move led to much kite-flying in the media, especially on the possibility of him going back to the National Democratic Alliance fold. This speculation got a shot in the arm when Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah not only praised Nitish openly from a public dais but also sang paeans on Twitter - twice.
It was immediately lapped up by the media. Kumar's open support for demonetisation when his ally Lalu Prasad was against it inevitably inspired this headline: 'Cracks in Mahagatbandhan, Nitish inches closer to NDA'.
For most, this may seem speculative political reportage, but for Kumar, the implications were very damaging. It was a confusing message to his core vote bank, especially minorities, which would weaken his position as the most prominent and credible anti-Modi face. This was what the Bihar CM meant when he screamed "rajnitik hatya”.
Clarifying why he took a stand against Opposition's anti-demonetisation tirade, he said: "Demonetisation was always on my mind. I always believed this would be an effective way to crack down on black money hoarders. And if someone has taken this bold step, I will praise him, even if he is my political adversary. There is nothing more to it than this. I am just speaking my heart out and being honest. That’s it."