Accuses BJP of weakening the anti-Congress sentiment

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday likened his Gujarat counterpart and Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to German dictator Adolf Hitler and said he spoke “the language of fascism.”

Mr. Kumar’s salvo came at the Janata Dal (United)’s camp in Rajgir, Nalanda district, two days after Mr. Modi attacked him at the ‘Hunkar’ rally in Patna.

The language used at the rally was provocative, he said “The expression was ‘chun chunkar saaf karna hai [we have to chose and crush each one].’ Is this the language of democracy? ... They want to muzzle all dissent.

“What did they do to the Nobel laureate?” he said referring to the criticism Amartya Sen faced for opposing Mr. Modi. “They carried out a character assassination on social networking sites. This is not just ‘tanashahi’ [authoritarianism]; this is fascism. When you believe in fascism, Hitler becomes your icon. And you do what Hitler did.”

Ridiculing the euphoria surrounding the Patna rally, Mr. Kumar said anybody who aspired to become Prime Minister must be patient, not desperate. Mr. Modi’s “Red Fort dream will remain a dream,” he said.

Replying to charges of betrayal and backstabbing, Mr. Kumar accused the BJP of “weakening the anti-Congress sentiment.” The BJP, he said, was responsible for the NDA’s split in Bihar. The party joined hands with the JD (U) for the 2010 elections because it knew it would not make much headway otherwise. “So who is the opportunist? What betrayal are they talking about? The word ‘Hunkar’ itself smacks of arrogance. They began their Hunkar campaign even when they were with us.”

Mr. Kumar said Mr. Modi’s assertions at the rally were a pack of lies. “I was never a State guest in Gujarat. I was invited by a judge of the Patna High Court. Secondly, we never came face to face at a table during the chief ministers’ meet… Everything is made up. Just like the wave they talk about. It is fake wind you get from a blower. They have the resources to create a false wave.”

He also dismissed poll surveys as “public relations exercises” that only served to entertain.

Just as Mr. Modi did at the Patna rally, Mr. Kumar too recalled his humble beginnings. “I did not sell tea, but I am the son of a small farmer and a freedom fighter… a common man. I also dreamt, but not of becoming the PM, though it’s not a crime to dream that. But what matters is what you have done for the backward classes, what your vision is for development.”

Mr. Kumar did not miss any opportunity to take a dig at Mr. Modi. He ridiculed the mixing up of the Gupta and Maurya dynasties in Mr. Modi’s speech “as a great history lesson.” He questioned his ‘swadeshi’ stand by pointing to the ‘Made in China’ label on the ‘Hunkar’ rally passes.

Countering BJP’s claims of having conducted a historic rally, Mr. Kumar said his own ‘Adhikar’ rallies in Patna and Delhi were beyond comparison. The “quality of the crowd” was different too. “They were attended by the common people. Our rallies were not for any individual, but for Bihar’s right.”

Mr. Kumar warned against the rise of communal and fascist forces ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and underscored the need to uphold secularism at all costs.