Patna: An upwardly mobile farmer in Bihar was on Tuesday reprimanded by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for using too many "English words" while narrating his exciting life journey.
The speaker identified himself as Amit Kumar from Lakhisarai at the Bapu Sabhagar auditorium where a function was organised to mark the inauguration of the "fourth agriculture roadmap" of the state government.
Farmer is a management graduate
Kumar began by lavishing praise on the chief minister for creating an environment wherein he, a management graduate with a promising career in Pune, could muster the courage to give it up all and take up cultivation of mushrooms in his native district.
Barely a few minutes into his speech, the agro-entrepreneur was stopped by the septuagenarian CM, who remained in his seat but interjected using a handheld microphone.
"I want to point out to you the incongruity of using so many English words. Is it England? You are working in Bihar, practising agriculture which is the profession of the common folks," said Kumar, evoking applause from the crowd.
A staunch follower of legendary socialist Ram Manohar Lohia who championed the cause of vernacular languages as one of the many tools to be used for removing social inequality, the CM also expressed the view that "smartphone addiction during the COVID-induced lockdowns" had led many people to "forget their own languages".
Can you not say sarkaari yojana?
The flustered speaker resumed, only to be upbraided seconds later for having used the expression "government schemes".
"What is this? Can you not say sarkaari yojana? I am an engineer by training and my medium of instruction was English. But it is another thing to use the language for academic pursuits. Why must you do so in day-to-day life?" he said.
The Lakhisarai delegate then said sorry, before resuming.
The BJP, which has shared power with Kumar for long and has been licking its wounds since the JD(U) leader dumped it six months ago, found in the occasion a stick to beat its former ally with.
"Is CM Nitish Kumar annoyed with English language itself or with its usage by the subalterns? His objection to the use of English words in a public address is absolutely ridiculous," said state BJP leader and its OBC Morcha national general secretary Nikhil Anand.
"Carried away by the passion of daydream, Nitish ji is suffering from political hysteria", added the BJP leader, in an indirect reference to the "national ambitions" of the JD(U) leader who has maintained that he is not an aspirant for Prime Ministership.
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