Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has slammed what he called "the pretense" over the celebrations for 75 years of Independence and alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the RSS, would write a new version of the freedom movement if they could -- one where Mahatma Gandhi would be "cast aside". The BJP and the RSS, its ideological mentor, had no contribution in the freedom movement, Mr Kumar has said in a scorching speech, scoffing at the 18-month "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations" announced last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"What is the name they used? Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. Amrit. Who was the leader of the Independence Movement? It was Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi). So they could have called it the Bapu Mahotsav," Mr Kumar said at a National Council meeting of Janata Dal United in Patna.
In the video of the address, released recently by the party, Mr Kumar is heard saying: "What are they trying to say? That they were part of the Independence movement? Today the RSS is going strong. They are watching everything. So the RSS was part of the Independence movement? Bapu was murdered. Why? Because he was uniting the Hindus and Muslims... Please keep in mind what kind of work they were involved in. They want to say they were involved in the Independence movement? All this is just pretense. If they could, they would just wipe out the true history of the Independence movement and write new things".
रविवार को पार्टी की राष्ट्रीय परिषद की बैठक में अपने भाषण में @NitishKumar ने साफ़ किया कि आख़िर केंद्र की आज़ादी के अमृत महोत्सव से उन्होंने अपने को अलग रखा @ndtvindia @ndtv pic.twitter.com/XF0Cj7pg1G— manish (@manishndtv) September 6, 2022
"And be sure to know, a day will come when the Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, Bapu, will also be cast aside... see what they are doing for the killer of Bapu," he added.
Mr Kumar made it clear that though he was an ally of the BJP at the time, he had stayed away. "I was with them. So I did not say a word. But please know this, I never supported all this meaningless nonsense," he said.
When Union Home Minister Amit Shah had called a meeting of all Chief Ministers in June, Nitish Kumar had skipped it, and deputed his then deputy Tarakishore Prasad.
Mr Kumar has been loud in his criticism of the BJP after ending his alliance with the party for a second time last month. He is currently in Delhi, meeting various leaders with an aim to create a strong opposition front against the BJP in the 2024 elections.
He has already met Congress's Rahul Gandhi and the Left leaders. He is also slated to meet Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party's Sharad Pawar.