Bihar CM Nitish Kumar found himself in the thick of a controversy over a tweet likening himself to “chandan” (sandalwood), which remains unaffected by snakes wrapped around it, with opponents interpreting the “snake” reference to be a jibe directed at RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
In a response to a twitter follower’s question about RJD’s role in grand alliance if it were to bag more seats than the JD(U), the CM had quoted a couplet by popular poet Rahim.
The tweet created a flutter in political circles with Lalu Prasad expressing his displeasure. “It is Nitish Kumar who should explain the meaning of his tweet,” he said.
Other RJD leaders sought to play down the controversy. Jay Prakash Narayan, an RJD leader and Banka MP, said: “Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad are like brothers.”
On July 20, Sunil Chandol, Nitish Kumar’s twitter follower from Mumbai asked: “#AskNitish if you win with Laluji and their numbers are significant, how will you give development oriented government?”
In reply, the CM tweeted on July 21: “Bihar’s development is my sole agenda. Jo Rahim uttam prakriti, ka kari sakat kusung, chandan vish vyapat nahi, lipte rahat bhujang (Bad company does not affect a virtuous man, just like the sandalwood tree is not affected by snakes wrapped around it).
The BJP was quick to use the tweet to slam the Lalu-Nitish alliance. BJP spokesperson, Shahnawaz Hussain, asked Nitish to explain the the couplet’s context. “If not Lalu, who was Nitish trying to humiliate?” Hussain said.
Nitish clarified: “My tweet and the use of Rahim’s couplet was meant for BJP, which is poisonous”. But he did not clarify on his twitter follower’s question about the party’s post-poll equation with the RJD.
Speaking on the controversy, an RJD source said: “Our relationship is anyway tenuous. Such tweets are not going to serve any purpose”.