Nitish's erratic behaviour at PM's rally triggers questions about his mental health: 'I was aghast'

He appeared to bend towards the PM's feet with arms outstretched

PTI04_07_2024_000040A Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during a public meeting ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, in Nawada | PTI

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who recently switched sides from the opposition's INDIA bloc to the BJP-led NDA, set tongues wagging on Sunday with his erratic behaviour during a public rally.

Nitish, who attended the election rally in Nawada district along with the Prime Minister, committed his first gaffe when he said the NDA would win more than 4,000 seats during the Lok Sabha elections. In the speech, the chief minister was heard fumbling "char lakh (four lakh) seats, before correcting himself and uttering ”char hazaar se bhi zyada (more than 4,000 seats). He then turned towards PM Modi whom he has been wishing a "400 plus tally" in the election.

He then went on to bend towards the PM's feet with arms outstretched, before greeting him with folded hands. Modi on a chair on the stage next to Nitish when this occurred,

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who served as Kumar's deputy whenever his party shared power with JD(U), said he felt "anguish" over the conduct of his former boss. "I was aghast to see a photo in which Nitish Kumar can be seen touching the feet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is such an elderly person. Has been a chief minister for so long. Few of his counterparts have had such a long tenure," said Yadav. 

"Was not Narendra Modi the same person whom Nitish ji often accused of deviating from the conciliatory path of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani? Had he not cancelled a dinner to which the then Gujarat CM was invited and returned the financial aid offered by the western state?" he added. 

Yadav, who lost his job as Bihar Deputy CM as a result of the JD(U) chief's latest volte-face, was referring to the once famous rivalry between Kumar and Modi which had led the Bihar CM to snap ties with BJP, for the first time, after his then Gujarat counterpart's ascent on the national stage seemed inevitable. 

The Congress also took a jibe at Nitish Kumar for his actions. Rajesh Rathore, who heads the media cell of the Congress in Bihar, said that the JD(U) should make sure that Kumar reads out from a written script.

"The JD(U) should make sure Kumar reads out from a written script while on public platforms, instead of speaking ex tempore and causing embarrassment to the whole of Bihar with utterances like 4,000 plus Lok Sabha seats. "

"He appeared to be touching the feet of Modi, despite being the latter's senior in politics. Even if the gesture was inadvertent, it clearly shows the Bihar CM does not enjoy optimal mental health".

Nitish Kumar had earlier faced flak for a photograph in which he appeared to be prostrating before the PM in 2022, at a function organised to mark swearing in of Yogi Adityanath.

The BJP too had earlier heaped scorn on Kumar and alleged that the veteran leader was betraying senility, all when he was with the Congress. The JD(U) has not yet commented on the Nawada episode. 

(With PTI inputs)

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