RIFT WIDE OPEN: WILL NITISH BE NEXT TO DITCH BJP AFTER NAIDU?

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (left) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi

MUMTAZ ALAM |Caravan Daily

PATNA: At last, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has broken his silence on the recent concerted attempts by some BJP leaders to polarize the society in the state on communal lines. From run-up to the last week by-polls in Araria, BJP leaders had been making all-out attempts to vitiate communal atmosphere in Bihar, but Nitish was maintaining studied silence, giving an opportunity to the Opposition, mainly RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav to corner him.

On Monday, however, after the daylong protest by Opposition in the Assembly over the recent acts of BJP leaders and Union Ministers Giriraj Singh and Ashwini Chowbey and BJP state president Nityanand Rai in the context of incidents in Araria, Darbhanga and Bhagalpur, Nitish spoke and he spoke a bit harshly, which could be read as a hint to his likely future move.

“Please remember, neither did I compromise with corruption, nor I will compromise with those trying to divide the society. I’m for complete communal and social peace… I want to make it clear that this country will march ahead on the basis of love, compassion and communal harmony,” said Nitish.

His comment is his first and direct rebuke to the BJP since July 2017 when he ditched Mahagathbandhan of RJD+Congress+JDU and formed government with the support of BJP – the party the Mahagathbandhan had defeated in the 2015 Assembly polls.

After last week’s crack in the BJP-led NDA, TDP of Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu not only left the central government but also the NDA. Naidu took the decision in the wake of the Uttar Pradesh by-polls wherein BJP got humiliating defeat both in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats – the first won by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath for five consecutive terms and the second was won by Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya in 2014.

Nitish’s scathing attack on BJP leaders has come couple of days after the communal clashes in Bhagalpur during a religious procession taken out by members of BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal under the leadership of Union Minister Ashwini Chowbey’s son Arijit Shashwat. The police have lodged case against Shashwat. Besides, before and after the Araria by-polls BJP state chief Rai and Union Minister Giriraj Singh had said that the Muslim-dominated district in eastern Bihar will become hub of ISI after RJD’s victory. Last Friday, an elderly person was hacked to death by a mob over a land dispute in Darbhanga. The local police, 3rd time sitting BJP Lok Sabha MP from there, Kirti Azad and Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi categorically said that. But Singh and Rai went ahead to claim that the man was killed for naming a chowk after Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Not just that, the duo visited the home of the deceased and reiterated the same remarks. In a video, Singh was even caught inciting a mob to shout slogans against the DSP who happens to be Muslim.

Nitish has not just attacked on the BJP leaders but also supported another BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan who had on Sunday said that BJP will have to change its perception about Dalits and Muslims.

In July last year, Nitish had parted ways with RJD-led Grand Alliance or Mahagathbandhan over corruption allegations against some family members of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. In his comment on Monday, he made it clear that he would make equal distance with corruption and communalism when he said: “Please remember, neither did I compromise with corruption, nor I will compromise with those trying to divide the society.”

Nitish’s strong comment could be seen as a hint that like he ditched Mahagathbandhan over corruption issue, he can leave NDA over the issue of communalism.

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