Nitish Kumar caved under pressure; don’t need his support: Rahul Gandhi

Congress is a part of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’, which also comprises the RJD and Left parties

January 30, 2024 12:42 pm | Updated January 31, 2024 01:53 am IST - Patna

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi pays tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on Martyrs’ Day, at the campsite of ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’, in Araria district, on January 30, 2024.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi pays tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on Martyrs’ Day, at the campsite of ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’, in Araria district, on January 30, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

As his Bharat Jodo Naya Yatra traversed Bihar for the second day on Tuesday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said his party did not need the support of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. “A little pressure and he took a U-turn”. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge too took a dig at Mr. Kumar’s frequent switching of sides.

“I understand Nitish Ji’s quandary. I told him straight that you will have to conduct caste census in Bihar. And we (Congress), along with RJD, insisted Nitish ji should conduct the survey. But BJP was in a panic as they oppose a survey. Nitish ji was in a jam and the BJP provided him a back door to escape”, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said while addressing an impressive public meeting at Rangbhumi Maidan in Purnia, north Bihar. “The mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) will continue to fight for social justice in Bihar and we don’t need Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. A little pressure and he took a U-turn”. The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entered Kishanganj in Bihar on January 29 from West Bengal.

Dalits get raw deal

On January 28, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar severed ties with the mahagathbandhan and joined the BJP in forming a NDA government. He continues as chief minister of the state. This is Mr. Kumar’s fifth U-turn in a decade. The Congress party is part of the mahagathbandhan government in Bihar along with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and three Left parties. “Our country needs a caste based census to determine the exact population of Dalits, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Tribals and others”, Mr. Gandhi said. “Providing social and economic justice to promote people’s development are the reasons behind our yatra. Dalits and Backward Classes do not get due representation in all sectors.”

Mr. Gandhi said: “Manipur faces a civil war like situation but Prime Minister Narendra Modi is yet to visit the state”. Mr. Gandhi met a group of farmers in the district and alleged that “farmers land is being gifted to industrialists like Adani. The good thing is that farmers have refused to yield and are fighting for their rights.” He added, “if our party (Congress) is voted into power we will frame farmer-friendly policies.”

“I am not speaking empty words here. We waived ₹72,000 crores in farmers’ loans and introduced the Land Acquisition Bill. When we had governments in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, farmers got the right prices for their produce. We worked for farmers before, and we will continue to work in the time to come…” he said.

Farmers squeezed

In Purnea, Rahul Gandhi had an extended interaction with local farmers. They highlighted how they were squeezed between rising input costs, unfair land acquisition practices, and inadequate compensation for harvests,’ Jairam Ramesh posted on X.

‘Rahul empathised with the struggle that farmers face in the Modi Government’s anyay-kaal, juxtaposing the UPA Government’s progressive Land Acquisition Law to the Modi Government’s attempts to revoke it within months of coming to power. He assured them that as soon as the Congress Government is formed, it would enforce robust and fair laws for farmers across the nation, delivering on the promise of Kisan NYAY,’ he wrote further.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge was scheduled to address the public in Purnia but he could not reach the venue due to bad weather and his flight failed to land. He addressed the meeting virtually and took a dig at Nitish Kumar’s sudden political U-turns. “Bihar which showed the light to the world is known today as political lab of aaya-rams and gaya-rams”, Mr. Kharge said. “Bihar was the birthplace of democracy”, he said speaking of saints and eminent politicians “but sadly the politics of greed and opportunism dominatethis land today”. “The Congress party has not ditched anyone and been respectful to our allies. The Mahagathbandhan government tried to intensify development works in Bihar which have been halted for years but that hurt Modi and Shah and they made a mockery of Bihar’s prestige and self-respect”, added Mr. Kharge in his virtual speech.

Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya too addressed the meeting.

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