Nitish takes dig at BJP, calls for fight against ‘intolerance’

New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took a dig at the BJP and RSS, saying those who “never recognised the tricolour as national flag” are now taking out ‘tiranga yatras’ and appealed to intellectuals and those who believe in socialism to unite against “the current climate of intolerance”.

“We are witnessing a new era. Sometimes it feels good to hear that those who never recognised the tricolour are taking out ‘tiranga yatras’ today. Those who never had faith in the tricolour that it was the national flag, it feels good to see what they are doing now,” he said at a book release function, obviously targetting BJP and its ideological mentor RSS.

Kumar, in his speech, repeatedly called for unity among the “scattered” socialist parties and intellectuals to take on “intolerance”.

“When you launched a campaign against intolerance, it was a big success. The campaign should not stop, it should continue. Today, circumstances have been created when you have to fight it through an ideological campaign unitedly,” he said.

Lamenting that those who believed in socialist thought lay scattered, the JD(U) president said there is need to unite them on one platform “in the current climate of intolerance”.

“The manner in which the era of intolerance is prevailing today, in such circumstances, writers, intellectuals would not just have to write but do other things also.

“It is not that all agree with what is happening today, majority people don’t, but this voice of dissent is not strong and all have to work hard to get it heard,” he said.

He asked the intellectuals present at the function to unite and launch a new cultural and literary campaign against alleged intolerance so the “people are forced to think”.

“The circumstances created today are such that there is a need for an alternative. Today, you organised this book release, but you have to take this work forward. The intellectuals have a big role to play in these circumstances,” he said.

“If people present here today take a pledge to play their role actively, I feel the era that has started now…It is not that it will never end. During Emergency too, people thought it will never end but it did,” he said, adding people would have to also stand united against “this era of ‘prachar tantra’ (propaganda apparatus of the government)”.

Noting that pursuit of socialist ideals was difficult, Kumar referred to the ones faced by him while launching prohibition in his state.

Nitish Kumar said, “Whenever you do anything for social good you face a lot of difficulties. You will face all kinds of criticism. We have introduced prohibition in Bihar, we have to hear what not… Draconian law and all that. While doing such work, one will face difficulties.”

Promising to work for taking the socialist thought and ideology forward and helping all those who followed it, he asked people to unitedly carry on the battle against the “current climate of intolerance”.

“I feel there is need for better coordination, you take a step forward and we will do whatever we can.”

Nitish alleged the BJP used the cow a day before Bihar polls “as a last-ditch effort to woo voters by saying they are those that protect it and dubbed us as the ones who are its killers”.

Accusing the Modi government of not fulfilling promises made ahead of elections, he asked the intellectuals to take those to people.

“What they promised and what they did. You should take this to the public. During elections, they promise to provide farmers 50 per cent more than the input cost, but never pay it,” he said.