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Nitish Kumar’s discomfort with ally BJP surfaces as 'communal harmony' takes centre stage in Bihar politics

Kumar, who allied with BJP afresh in July 2017 four years after snapping ties with it, is upset with the saffron party over three recent incidents in the state

Published: 20th March 2018 08:49 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2018 08:49 PM   |  A+A-

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar (File | PTI)

Express News Service

PATNA: In the first telltale signs of his discomfort with ally BJP, Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar has laboured for two days to make it clear he would not compromise with “divisive forces” in the state even as the main Opposition RJD has accused BJP of trying to spark communal tension.

Kumar, who allied with BJP afresh in July 2017 four years after snapping ties with it, is upset with the saffron party over three recent incidents in the state. While he sent out an oblique message to BJP on Monday saying that he would “compromise neither with corruption nor with divisive forces,” he was more elaborate at a public function in Patna on Tuesday.

“I have ruled Bihar for over 12 years. I have never allowed any quarrel in society to get out of control and acquire a communal nature. I will never allow this to happen,” said Kumar at a ‘Yuva Sammelan’ organised by party colleague Ashok Chaudhary.

Specifically naming the three recent communal flashpoints in Bihar – Araria, Darbhanga and Bhagalpur – the JD(U) stalwart said: “I am shocked to know the kind of information some people have spread… In Darbhanga, it was merely a dispute over land and it (murder) had nothing to do with a place being named after PM Modi. My partner (deputy chief minister) Sushil Kumar Modi was also worried and made things clear in a statement. Police also stated the facts”.

“Despite this, if any effort is made to spread hatred in society or to ruin communal harmony, I will not tolerate this… If anyone took out a procession in Bhagalpur without the administration’s permission, an FIR was lodged. I will not allow anyone to break the law,” he added.

Kumar is unhappy with the BJP leadership – especially Union ministers Giriraj Singh and Ashwini Kumar Choubey and BJP state chief Nityanand Rai – for their statements during and after the recent bypolls for Araria Lok Sabha constituency and Jehanabad Assembly constituency, which the ruling NDA lost.

Soon after the BJP candidate lost in Muslim-dominated Araria, Giriraj Singh said the place would become a hub of terrorism. Rai had said in a campaign speech in Araria that the RJD candidate’s victory would turn Araria into an ISI hub.

In Darbhanga, even after police made it clear that an ageing man’s murder had nothing to do with protests over a site their being named after the PM, both Singh and Rai visited the place to investigate and said the man was killed because he had named the site after the PM.

Bhagalpur, which saw one of the worst communal riots in 1989, witnessed communal clashes during a procession of BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal workers led by Ashwini Choubey’s son Arjit Sashwat on March 17. The Opposition RJD created furore in the Assembly for two days demanding the sacking of Singh and Choubey from the Union cabinet and Shashwat’s arrest.

Kumar clearly does not want to lose the goodwill of Bihar’s Muslims, who make up about 16 per cent of the population and have stood behind JD(U) in past elections. He is also careful not to cede ground to RJD, which has been attacking him for allying with the “communal BJP”.



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