New Delhi: In clear signs of Nitish Kumar firming up his party's alliance with the BJP both inside and outside Bihar, the Janata Dal (United) on Wednesday expelled rebel leaders Prashant Kishore and Pavan Varma from the primary membership of the party.
Over the last month, the two leaders had called to question the JD(U)’s alliance with the BJP outside Bihar and its stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Kumar is expected to share the stage with Union Home Minister Amit Shah at a poll rally in Delhi on February 2 and campaign for BJP candidates ahead of the Assembly polls next week.
A JD(U) statement, issued by party's chief general secretary KC Tyagi, said the two were "acting against the party's decisions as well as its functioning", which amounted to a breach of discipline. The party also accused Kishor of using "insulting words" against the Bihar chief minister.
The JD(U) said, "It is imperative that Kishor be removed from the party, so that he doesn't fall any lower."
Reacting to the expulsion, Kishor tweeted his thanks to Kumar.
The expulsion came a day after a war of words between Kishor and Kumar who claimed that the former had been inducted into the party at the direction of Amit Shah. Dismissing the allegations as "fake", Kishor had criticised Shah.
Kumar on Tuesday had sought to de-link himself from the strong stand taken by Kishor against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), saying people are free to remain in the party or leave if they want.
Over the last month, Kishor has sought to question the government's position on the citizenship law, taking on senior BJP leaders, including Shah.
A few days ago, he had challenged the Home Minister to implement CAA and NRC in the same "chronology" that he had "audaciously announced".
The public spat between Kishor and Kumar has come amid a heated campaign for the Delhi Assembly elections in which the two are on the opposing sides. While Kishor is handling the campaign for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Kumar’s party has forged an alliance with the BJP to contest on two seats.
Kumar has also exchanged sharp words with Varma who had openly opposed the party’s official stand on CAA as well as the alliance in Delhi. After Varma wrote an open letter asking Kumar to reconsider his position, the party chief had said he was free to leave the outfit.