A press conference by two Chief Ministers, vital for projecting opposition unity, turned awkward for a few moments when Telangana’s K Chandrashekhar Rao was seen taking reporters’ questions as his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar tried to leave.
“Aap baithiye na (please sit),” Mr Rao, or KCR, pleaded as Nitish Kumar insisted: “Aap chaliye na (let’s go).”
The two leaders kept saying “baithiye“, “chaliye” to each other in what was interpreted by many as an example of the opposition’s dissonance on a big question – who will be the prime ministerial candidate vs Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The video is going viral with BJP leaders sharing it on social media and targeting Nitish Kumar, who dumped the party last month and formed a new government with Tejashwi Yadav, Congress and other opposition parties.
It started when KCR was repeatedly asked about the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate and whether he would back Nitish Kumar for the role.
When he began to answer it for the second time, Nitish Kumar stood up, signaling an end to the hour-long press meet.
It started when KCR was asked, for the third time in a row, about the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate and whether he would back Nitish Kumar for the role.
Nitish Kumar stood up, signaling an end to the hour-long press meet.
“Baithiye na,” urged KCR, pulling him by his hand as he tackled the question without giving a direct reply.
“Who says if I propose a name, people will accept it? Why are you in a hurry? We (opposition parties) have to sit and talk,” he said.
Nitish Kumar was still standing when KCR told the reporters: “I am sitting, you also sit.”
His Bihar host also sat.
Then the questions turned to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and whether he could be the opposition’s choice.
“You are smart, but I am smarter,” KCR shot back.
Then Nitish Kumar stood up again, drawing laughter in the room. This time, he did not sit back down, despite the Telangana Chief Minister’s coaxing.
“We will make every possible effort to bring together anti-BJP forces,” KCR said.
Nitish Kumar started walking and stressed, “Let’s go. Don’t get into all this.”
Sharing the video, BJP leaders said Nitish Kumar had “insulted” KCR.
Did KCR travel to Patna to get insulted like this? Nitish Kumar didn’t even accord him the basic courtesy of completing his point in a press interaction. Nitish was dismissive of KCR’s pleas to let him finish. But then that is Nitish Kumar. Self conceited. KCR asked for it… pic.twitter.com/k9BQPo6FCI
– Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) August 31, 2022
If KCR had any hopes of leading the 3rd/4th/5th front – Nitish Kumar has effectively ended those by embarrassing him in the most brutal manner pic.twitter.com/NuskfJLUtP
– Shehzad Jai Hind (@Shehzad_Ind) September 1, 2022
Mr Rao, who has been meeting various opposition leaders in moves aimed at the 2024 national election, said he would make all efforts towards a “BJP-Mukt Bharat“.
“Why Third Front, we are working on the Main Front…All opposition parties should come together and raise the slogan for a BJP-mukt Bharat… We will try to unite all Opposition parties in the country,” said KCR.
The Telangana Chief Minister’s visit to Bihar comes weeks after Nitish Kumar’s re-entry into the opposition camp. Mr Kumar’s move to ditch the BJP has brought cheer to the opposition and has raised questions on whether the eight-time Chief Minister could be the face of the opposition against PM Modi.
BJP leader Sushil Modi said: “KCR didn’t even accept Nitish Kumar as a PM candidate and outrightly denied it. Nitish Kumar tried to walk out of a presser when they were asked about it though KCR tried to make him sit many times.”