Nothing to fear…Opposition needs to unite, work on its agenda, not just react: Nitish Kumar

Nitish Kumar’s anti-BJP pitch and his meetings with Opposition leaders, particularly from Left, comes in the backdrop of speculation of his cosying up to BJP.

Written by Anand Mishra | New Delhi | Published:February 11, 2017 4:45 am
nitish kumar, p chidambaram, oppositon, BJP, fearless in opposition, chidambaram book, nitish kumar on BJP, nitish kumar against BJP, rahul gandhi, united opposition, united opposition against BJP, Sitaram Yechury, barkha dutt Rahul Gandhi, Nitish Kumar, K C Tyagi on Friday. Neeraj Priyadarshi

UNDERLINING that “maximum Opposition unity” was the need of the hour, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday urged Opposition parties to work out their own agenda and move forward on it rather than keep reacting to that set by the ruling BJP. He was participating in a panel discussion to mark the launch of Fearless Opposition, a collection of columns (Across the Aisle) by former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in The Indian Express published by Rupa. The launch was attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, too. Pointing at Rahul, Kumar said, “Why will they (BJP) set the agenda? Why not Rahulji sets the agenda (agenda wo set kyon karenge, agenda Rahul ji kyon nahin set karenge?).”

Kumar, who yesterday visited Gondia in Maharashtra to attend a function at a college set up by NCP leader Praful Patel, today held talks with CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI’s D Raja and Sudhakar Reddy. In the evening, he joined the panel with Yechury, Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, where he said, “Right now, the need of the nation is Opposition unity. The day this Opposition unity comes, you see what happens…There is nothing to fear. Everything will be all right. We should follow our agenda 90 percent and only 10 percent we should react to the agenda of others. We should move forward after setting our own agenda with maximum opposition unity.”

Kumar was referring to Chidambaram’s opening comment that he needed to underline “fearless” in the title of the book because “too much fear is stalking the country,” — in institutions, in the bureaucracy, in Dalits and minorities, in civil society and activists. “We need to send a message that we are democratic and fearless. There are enough cheerleaders and drumbeaters,” he said. Sibal said that India, as of today, was not a “fearless” nation. He claimed fear had gripped the bureaucracy and sections of the media as well. The panel discussion was moderated by journalist and former NDTV editor Barkha Dutt.

Yechury drew the attention of the panel to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks in Haridwar today warning the Congress to “hold its tongue” saying he had everyone’s “janam patri” (horoscope). “This sort of language…this is not the level of politics in which we have grown. Moreover, as Prime Minister, if you have the janam patri, put it out and take action,” he said. Kumar said: “The reply, the language shows they (BJP) are in trouble somewhere. The use of (this kind of) language shows that one who is speaking it is facing some difficulties.”

Modi’s “raincoat” jibe at Manmohan Singh was also discussed and Chidambaram strongly defended the Congress’s reaction saying that it could have been ignored had it been made in a remote town or in a party meeting but the floor of the House was a “sanctified” place. Kumar said that his initial support to demonetisation was because of claims made by the government that it would curb black money and fake currency but “now it should be asked how much black money has come back, how much of fake currency was detected.”

He said he agreed with Manmohan Singh’s contention that it displayed “monumental mismanagement.” “What Doctor Saheb (Singh) said is right. It is indeed a failure. The Central government should tell what benefits accrued due to it,” he said. He also accused the Modi government of “totally diverting” the issue through the cashless or less-cash pitch after demonetisation. “Some people are adept in diverting issues. They are now saying that they will double the income of farmers in five years. They are not going to stay in power for (the next) five years (paanch saal tak to rahne waale hi nahin hain).”

Nitish Kumar’s anti-BJP pitch and his meetings with Opposition leaders, particularly from Left, comes in the backdrop of speculation of his cosying up to BJP. When asked by Dutt to respond to speculation about his possible “ghar wapasi” to the BJP, Nitish laughed and dismissed the speculation. He said that while he was in the NDA, he had supported UPA’s decisions including its candidate for President, Pranab Mukherjee. “Do not go for these things. See what happens ultimately. The habit of some people should be understood,” he said reminding that how a newspaper reported that he had met BJP chief Amit Shah even when it did not happen.

Yechury, whose party has supported governments by the Third Front as well as the Congress, said that Opposition unity has always been on the basis of programmes. He downplayed the issue of a single national leader. In a jocular vein, he said that he had the patent for the term, “outside support.” “Opposition unity can and will come on certain set of agenda, policy and programmes, that a common minimum programme. I don’t think lack of personality is a problem. Moreover, there is no dearth of personalities,” he said. Congress leader Kapil Sibal said there is a “need to build a new consensus”.

Asked why the Opposition did not have a counter-narrative to that of the Government, Chidambaram said that it is wrong to assume that the political narrative cannot be changed and cited the victory of Nitish-led coalition in Bihar and the “upstart” victory in Delhi (AAP) as examples of parties having “defeated the Hindutva narrative”.  “These are two fine examples in 24 months,” he said. Sibal interjected that the “alternative narrative has to be a civilised one. The Nitish narrative was a civilised one. The other was not civilised.” Chidambaram called demonetisation a “terrible mistake”, which had interrupted India’s growth story and said that the “shadow of demonetisation” would extend across 2017-18 and a bit of 2018-19 as well. He declined to accept that there was a popular support to the move asking “whether this is popular support or popular silence” underlining the difference between the two.

He alleged that the government’s intent to carry out demonetisation may be one of the reasons why former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan was forced to go.  He dared the government to make public a “five-page note” of the RBI sent to it around the time when RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had resigned in June last year and claimed that the note gave arguments why the currency ban exercise should not be carried out. Sibal said that it was important to scrutinise how Rs 15 lakh crore got back into the system. “There has to be a nexus within the system,” he said suggesting corruption in the demonetisation exercise.

Yechury said the jury is out on the issue and the support is “anti black-money” and “not pro-demonetisation”. He drew a parallel between the people’s response to notebandi (demonetisation) with that of nasbandi (sterilisation campaign) during Emergency. “At that time nobody spoke against nasbandi but people spoke through vote. This time also, nobody spoke against notebandi but they will speak through vote,” he said.

Alleging that “powers that be unleashed people to attack Rajan,” Chidambaram said that his impression was that the former RBI Governor would have agreed to a second term of two years and if nudged he would have stayed another eight months. “But they made it so difficult for him to continue with self-respect and dignity. In retrospect, it appears to me that one of the reasons why Raghu was made to leave, why conditions were created to make him leave was that they wanted to demonetise currency and Rahul was implacably against demonetisation of currency,” the former Finance Minister said.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, Mani Shankar Aiyar, K C Tyagi, Jay Panda, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, were among those who attended the event. Welcoming the panel, Anant Goenka, Executive Director, The Indian Express, said that the book was not just a celebration of fearlessness but also an affirmation of two fundamental principles of public discourse that are so fuzzy these days. “One, that facts do matter even in what is fashionably called the post-truth world. Two, the most effective way to ensure that you are heard and taken seriously is when you listen to those who disagree with you. Each column of Chidambaram has both these qualities in equal measure,” Goenka said. And they have a natural home in The Indian Express, he said. He quoted Raghuram Rajan’s foreword to say that in his columns, Chidambaram has a deep understanding, an “empathy,” for the position he chooses to criticise.

Rupa publisher Kapish Mehra said that Chidambaram’s book was an “important” one — the fact that the word “fearless” had to be used with “Opposition” was a pointer to the times.

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  1. A
    Anon
    Feb 11, 2017 at 1:38 am
    *भूली-बिसरी यादे जिनको भुला दिया सबने।*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*१.* यूपी के लोग भिखारी होते हैं- *(राहुल गाँधी, कांग्रेस उपाध्यक्ष)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२.* पंजाब के 70% लोग नशेड़ी होते हैं– *(राहुल गाँधी, कांग्रेस उपाध्यक्ष)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*३.* 90% बलात्कार तो लड़की की मर्जी से होते हैं– *धरम वीर गोयत (हरयाणा कांग्रेस, कांग्रेस प्रवक्ता)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*४.* बीवी पुरानी हों जाये तो मजा नहीं आता– *(श्रीप्रकाश जैसवाल, कोयला मंत्री कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*५.* महंगाई अच्छी है, ये तो ऐसे ही बढ़ेगी– *(पी चिदंबरम कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*६.* बलात्कार तो हर जगह होता है– *(रेणुका चौधरी, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*७.* सोनिया जी कहेंगी तो झाड़ू भी लगाउँग- *(भक्त चरणदास, कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*८.* पाकिस्तान के हिंदुओं को अपने ऊपर हों रहे अत्याचार के सबूत देने होंगे– *(सुशील शिंदे, कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*९.* मैं सोनिया जी के लिए जान तक दे दूँगा– *(सलमान खुर्शीद, कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*१०.* बोफोर्स की ही तरह कोयला घोटाला भी जनता भूल जायेगी– *(सुशील शिंदे, कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*११.* हमारे सैनिकों को पाकिस्तान की सेना ने नहीं बल्कि उनकी वर्दियों में आतंकवादियों ने मारा है- lt;br/gt;*(एके एंटनी, कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*१२.* पुलिस और सेना के लोग मरने के लिए ही होते हैं– *(भीम सिंह कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*१३.* पीने के लिए पानी नहीं है तो क्या बांधों में कर के ला दूं- *(अजीत पवार, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*१४.* महंगाई ज्यादा सोना खरीदने की वजह से बढ़ रही है– *(पी चिदंबरम, कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*१५.* पुलिस अल्पसंख्यक वर्ग के युवाओं को बेवजह परेशान ना करे- *(सुशिल शिंदे, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*१६.* पैसे पेड़ पर नहीं लगते– *(मनमोहन सिंह, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*१७.* हमारे पास कोई जादू की छड़ी नहीं है, जिससे महंगाई पर काबू किया जाये– *(मनमोहन सिंह, कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*१८.* गरीबी सिर्फ दिमाग का वहम है– *(राहुल गाँधी, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*१९.* इस देश को हिन्दुओ से ज्यादा खतरा है– *(राहुल गाँधी)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२०.*- ाला हाउस में आतंकवादियों के मरने पर सोनिया जी बहुत रोयीं थीं- *(सलमान खुर्शीद, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२१.*- सत्ता ज़हर है और माँ मेरे कमरे में आके रात में रोयीं थी- *(राहुल गाँधी, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२२.*- देश के संसाधनों पे पहला हक़ मुसलमानों का है- *(मनमोहन सिंह, कांग्रेस)* lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२३.*- भारत को RSS से ज़्यादा खतरा है न कि इस्लामिक आतंकवाद से- *(दिग्विजय सिंह, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२४.*- केवल मुस्लिम लड़की ही हमारी बेटीयां हैं- *(अखिलेष यादव, सपा)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२५.*- इसरत जहाँ मेरी बेटी है- *(नितीश कुमार)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२६.*- ओसामा जी- *(दिग्विजय सिंह, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२७.*- श्री सईद साहब- *(सुशिल शिंदे, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२८.*- राम एक कल्पना है *(कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*२९.*- भगवा और तिलक को देख कर गुस्सा आता है- *(मणी शंकर अय्यर, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*३०.*- मैं हिन्दू नही हूँ- *(मनीष तिवारी, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*३१.* क्या टंच माल है। *(दिग्विजय सिंह, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*३२.* पाँच रुपये में गरीवों को भरपेट भोजन मिल जाता है महँगाई कहाँ है- *(राज बबर, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*३३.* गरीबी एक सोच है मानसिक बीमारी है- *(राहुल ग़ांधी, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*३४.* रामायण एक कहानी है राम कभी पैदा नहीं लिए और राम सेतु राम ने नहीं बनाया - *(कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*३५.* राम एक पियक्कड़ थे- *(करुणा निधि, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*३६.* जो लोग मंदिर जाते है लड़की छेड़ते है- *(राहुल ग़ांधी, कांग्रेस)*lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt; *तीन कांग्रेसियों की कहानी*lt;br/gt;1. *मुफ्ती मोहम्मद सैयद* केंद्र में गृह मंत्री ||lt;br/gt;*दिसंबर 8, 1989* मुफ्ती की बेटी रूबिया सैयद का अफहरण|| *नतीजा 13 आतंकियों की रिहाई ||*lt;br/gt;.lt;br/gt;.lt;br/gt;2 . *सेैफुदीन सौज..* पार्टी के वरिष्ट नेता ..lt;br/gt;*अगस्त 1991* को सौजी की बेटी नाहीदा सौज का अपरहण || lt;br/gt;*नतिजा जेल में बंद 7 आतंकियों की रिहाई ||*lt;br/gt;.lt;br/gt;3 *गुलाम नबी आजाद...* तब कांग्रेस के सीएम उम्मीदवार .. अब राज्यसभा में विपक्ष के नेता ||lt;br/gt;*सितम्बर 22,1991* आजाद के साले तासादुक्क का अपहरण ||lt;br/gt;*नतीजा 21 आतंकियों की रिहाई ||*
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      Dipesh
      Feb 11, 2017 at 4:41 am
      Dalit is hindu, not Muslim .ok, u have no right to say anything against about our unity.one day , hmare dalit Bhai is baat ko samjhenge ek din
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      1. C
        Chander Pal
        Feb 11, 2017 at 3:01 am
        At least nitish has agreed that Modi is setting the agenda. Meanwhile it's not rocket science for nitish to research as to why industry is not coming to Bihar or Bengal. Why land of Nalanda is now taunting education supplying unskilled uneducated labour force to w of India. While at it just find out basics of job creation and infra structure is roads and bridges not fodder for a family. Remember that 9th p or fail deputy chief minister giving orders to those IAS fellows.
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        1. M
          Manohar
          Feb 11, 2017 at 5:46 am
          Rss bjp might have come to power by fooling Indians with conspiracies and lies but this has given us the opportunity to see how bad they are and how congress for all their faults might have actually saved us from getting destro by Rss bjp for last 70 years.
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            Anand Prakash
            Feb 11, 2017 at 4:22 am
            We presume you would remain consistent in your thinking and not flirt with the feku.
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              Abhattacharya
              Feb 11, 2017 at 9:54 am
              All opposition r scam master, they want to grab power by any means to start bigger scams
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                sps
                Feb 11, 2017 at 2:32 am
                Jhooth bolney sae pehle sharam kar liya karo. Karunanidhi, Congress?!! Kandhar tumahre Mamaji kae time mein hua tha! Aur bhi bahut kutch hai, agar snkhon pae patti na bandhi ho. Kutch BJP walon kae bhi yaad kar lete! Koi kami nahi hai wahan bhi, shri Andhbhakt Maharaj.
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                1. S
                  sps
                  Feb 11, 2017 at 2:36 am
                  Punjab will teach you such a lesson , that you won't forget for ages . If you have guts post about Punjab results on this page on 11th March. Whete you will go then? Because with your dirty mentality you're a refugee in this great country.
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                    Boba
                    Feb 11, 2017 at 4:09 am
                    Sabka Saath, Communal Party Ka Vinaash.
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                      Debasish Sarkar
                      Feb 11, 2017 at 8:20 am
                      It is too late Nitish Ji. Beware - A pipping R-Tom is standing on your door stand, that can destroy your Total credibility. This R-G Man can devour you in suitable moment. But if you want to be History? Then by all means You join with this R-G Man.
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                      1. D
                        Dalit
                        Feb 11, 2017 at 4:54 am
                        Flogging key baad Bhi. You Know what happened to our brother Rohit Vemula.
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                        1. D
                          Diwakar Singh
                          Feb 11, 2017 at 2:21 pm
                          It is determination of RSS Mukt Bharat which makes BJP, its leaders, supporters, workers and sympathizers wholly uncomfortable.
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                            Truth
                            Feb 11, 2017 at 5:18 am
                            Only a strong Opposition can ensure a "Healthy Democracy"... something that India has lost post-8th November 2016 !lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;A Dictator cannot be allowed to hold the country to ransom with his idiocies ....neither can he be allowed to damage the economy in the name of fake patriotism and hypocritical fight against corruption !
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                              JagoBharat
                              Feb 11, 2017 at 5:16 am
                              में मोदी के पीछे पडे रहेते है सब !! कौन कहेता है मोदीने 3 सालमें कोइ काम नहीं कीया ??? ये रहा लिस्ट... मोदी विरोधीओ के मुंह पे दे मारना...*lt;br/gt;* बड़े उद्योगपति ओ की लोन माफ़ की और आमआदमी पर टैक्स बढ़ाया मतलब गाय का दूध निकाल के को पिलाने जैसा काम किया !lt;br/gt;*नोटबंधी करके अमिरोका कालाधन सफेद कीया और सेंकडो गरीबोकी लाशे बिछाइlt;br/gt;*जवानोको घटीया खाना खिलाके देशके बहोत पैसे बचायेlt;br/gt;* अडानी को ठेके दिलायेlt;br/gt;*लोकशाहीका खुन कीयाlt;br/gt;*पत्रकारीताको शर्मिंदा कीयाlt;br/gt;* ललित मोदी को बचायाlt;br/gt;* पेट्रोल के भाव बहोत कम हो सकते थे लेकीन होने नहीं दीये !!lt;br/gt;* फेसबुक पर विरोधी कमेन्ट लिखने वालों को जेल भेजाlt;br/gt;* कश्मीर मे पाकिस्तानी झंडे लहरवाएlt;br/gt;* दिल्ली सरकार को अच्छे काम करने से रोकाlt;br/gt;* महंगे पंडाल लगाने वालों को काम मिलाlt;br/gt;* गुजरात और MP के मुख्यमंत्रियों को 100 करोड़ के विमान दिलवाएlt;br/gt;* काला धन वालों के नाम छुपाकर उन्हे बदनाम होने से बचाया
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                                Jat
                                Feb 11, 2017 at 12:32 am
                                Abki Baar Anti-Modi Sarkar. BJP may lose all 5 States where Election taking place.
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                                  JM
                                  Feb 11, 2017 at 11:47 pm
                                  If opposition come together with a common agenda, then sanghis will be in despair.
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                                    Kanu Mistry
                                    Feb 11, 2017 at 10:56 am
                                    This is a bunch of jokers. Nothing less. All of them are leftovers disgruntled frustrated elements.
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                                      Ramakrishnan
                                      Feb 11, 2017 at 5:00 am
                                      British stabbed BJP in the back after remaining cm with its support. Such a person is not trust worthy.
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                                      1. K
                                        KS KUMAR
                                        Feb 11, 2017 at 7:42 am
                                        What a farce. What is the ideology of any of these parties except unseat Modi and occupy chair of PM. All these leaders were happy with congress because they could indulge in corruption and ear away funds meant for public but still get away as the so called supreme leader was always collecting her share. Now since Modi or his cabinet do not indulge in corruption, hands of these leaders are itching and they want to come to power by hook or crook. Or else can anybody show any commonality in ideology of Rahul, Nitish, Mamata, Yechury, Akhilesh, Karunanidhi, Pawar. The only common point in ideology of all these parties is aming wealth.
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                                          Kiranprakash Gupta
                                          Feb 11, 2017 at 9:10 am
                                          It is beyond any logic that a person who came out from NDA in the name of Modi to lead anti Modi group has requested Rahul hi to come. out to lead him.It is not appropriate to surrender so early .It is only two years and nine months.
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                                          1. H
                                            Harminder Singh
                                            Feb 11, 2017 at 3:20 am
                                            So in in other words create actions which compels others to react
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