Opportunist, Monkey, ‘Paltu Ram’, RSS Supporter: Lalu Prasad Yadav on ‘Younger Brother’ Nitish Kumar

Jailed RJD supremo and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav has made startling revelations about current Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar in his yet-to-be-released autobiography ‘Gopalganj to Raisina-My Political Journey’.

Lalu narrates how he had met Nitish for the first time when the latter was still a student of engineering.

“I owe it to him for having backed me when I staked claim to the Bihar Assembly after Karpoori Thakur’s death. But he changed with time,” he writes, adding, “Nitish Kumar is like a ‘bandar’ (monkey), swinging from one branch to another.”

He further says that in 1995-96, he had coined a phrase to explain Nitish’s split personality – “Nitish ke pet mein daant hai’ (Nitish’s deviousness is well-hidden)

Nitish, The Opportunist

Someone who always had Prime Ministerial ambitions, Lalu adds, Nitish’s friendship with then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi soured after the latter strengthened his position in the Sangh and developed PM ambitions.

“Nitish sought to exploit the power tussle between the ageing Advani and Modi… in the hope that Advani would back him as a way to block to Modi’s candidature,” the book reads.

Lalu further writes that Nitish found it hard to battle Modi in terms of ideology and started criticising everything pro-Modi.

The former Bihar CM writes that Nitish resorted to “indecency” in 2010 when he cancelled a formal dinner of BJP leaders at his residence.

“What apparently provoked him was a full-page advertisement in the media showing Nitish and Modi holding hands aloft — a cut-out from a photograph at an NDA rally in Punjab ahead of the 2009 elections. Nitish described the advertisement as unethical and uncultured,” Lalu writes, adding that Nitish also returned a cheque of Rs 5 crore which the Gujarat government, headed by Modi, had given as flood relief to Bihar in 2008.

Nitish, The RSS Supporter

Lalu writes that Nitish remained inactive as the RSS stepped up its activities and communalised Bihar’s hinterland from 2005 to 2013, thus, forcing Lalu to ‘infiltrate’ the RSS which he writes he did by deploying RJD’s “young and smart cadres in the guise of RSS cadre”.

“The RSS had been organising shakhas in non-Muslim villages inhabited largely by people belonging to backward and Dalit castes. They would also distribute some booklets denigrating the minority religion and culture. The RSS organised its camps in a similar manner in various parts of the state. It chose to operate in Hindu-dominated villages close to those largely inhabited by the minority community. I had goosebumps on hearing these insider details about the RSS’ operations in Bihar,” he writes, adding that the Sangh, as a result of the government’s munificence, gained its strength to keep the communal pot boiling and in the process, it helped the BJP.

Elaborating on what happened after Nitish took over as chief minister in 2017, Lalu writes that the RSS and its numerous affiliates were unleashed to step up their hate campaign and violence in Bihar.

“Communal elements had been subdued once the Grand Alliance had come to power in 2015. With the backing of the new Nitish government, they became hyperactive. According to state police records, about 30,000 religious processions — an unprecedented number in Bihar’s history — were taken out within six months of Nitish rejoining the BJP fold. As many as two lakh swords were distributed. The people in those processions brandished swords frenziedly. Cow vigilante groups grew active, invading homes of minorities in four places in Bettiah and Bhojpur,” Lalu writes.

Nitish, The ‘Paltu Ram’

The former chief minister further writes how he had never trusted Nitish to keep his word on the alliance since he was with the BJP for almost two decades before shifting sides and then eventually going back to the saffron party. But, the former CM writes, “despite thinking hard and deep, I have failed to figure out when and how the idea to the leave the Grand Alliance and switch back to the BJP-led grouping crept into Nitish’s head.”

On July 5, 2017, Lalu writes, “the CBI lodged an FIR against him, Rabri Devi and Tejashwi in an Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) tender case and raided our house and the officials told us that they were under pressure from the powers that be to register cases against us.”

When Nitish asked Tejashwi, the then deputy CM, to explain the case, Lalu writes he advised his son to calmly tell the CM his side of the story.

“Tejashwi met Nitish and presented his point of view. He explained to the CM that he was then a 15-year-old schoolboy whose moustache had yet to grow,” Lalu writes, adding that Nitish still gave no indication of breaking up the alliance.

“However, on the same day, he went to Rajgir on the pretext of recuperating from some ailment. He remained closeted with his associates. In hindsight, I can say that he was plotting strategies to quit the alliance. I made two phone calls to him in Rajgir. His aide came on the line and informed me “Sahib pahad par tahalne gaye hain. Ayenge toe baat kar lenge (Sahib has gone for a walk in the hills. He will speak after he returns). Nitish never returned my calls,” Lalu adds.

The RJD supremo further writes that in 2017, within six or seven months of joining the BJP fold and becoming the CM, “Nitish became uncomfortable and restive again.” Nitish did everything to put pressure on the BJP, Lalu writes, including asking party leaders in June 2018 to declare him as the elder brother in the NDA in Bihar.

“Simultaneously, he sent his emissary, Prashant Kishor, to me on five different occasions. Kishor seemed to indicate that if I were to give in writing my party’s support to the JD(U), the latter would pull out of the BJP alliance and rejoin the Mahagathbandhan. Though I was not bitter with Nitish, I had lost trust in him completely… Kishor also met my son and the leader of the opposition in the Bihar Assembly, Tejashwi Yadav, in a bid to facilitate Nitish’s comeback in the Mahagathbandhan. Kishor pleaded that if we accepted Nitish back, we could win as many as 60 seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and decimate the BJP in the Hindi heartland. But I refused to respond positively to Kishor’s plea,” Lalu further writes.

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