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Nitish Kumar Takes No Compromise Stand on Communalism Amid Seat Sharing Rift, Slams BJP Ministers

The meeting in Delhi, held amid a growing rift over seat sharing for next year’s Lok Sabha election, saw the party upping the ante against its ally, the BJP, just days before Amit Shah calls on Nitish Kumar.

Marya Shakil | CNN-News18maryashakil

Updated:July 8, 2018, 5:38 PM IST
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Nitish Kumar Takes No Compromise Stand on Communalism Amid Seat Sharing Rift, Slams BJP Ministers
File photo of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.
New Delhi: The Janata Dal United sent a stern message to the Bharatiya Janata Party from its national executive meet on Sunday, making it clear that it would not compromise on the 3Cs of communalism, crime and corruption even if it comes at the cost of the government in Bihar.

The meeting in Delhi, held amid a growing rift over seat sharing for next year’s Lok Sabha election, saw the party upping the ante against its ally, the BJP, just days before Amit Shah calls on Nitish Kumar. At the same time, it spelled out what it would take for it to start talks with Congress once again, the clearest sign yet that a political realignment could be in the offing in the state.

Addressing the meeting, Nitish said he would not spare anyone who tries to create communal disturbance in the state, without taking any names. "There is no question of any compromise with corruption, crime and communalism... our government doesn't believe in shielding or framing anyone," he said.

He was referring to union ministers Jayant Sinha, who on Thursday had garlanded eight men who were convicted for killing a cattle trader in Ramgarh, and Giriraj Singh, who met Bajrang Dal and Vishva Hindu Parishad activists lodged in Nawada jail on the accusations of rioting.

He said that that no one should be under the illusion that the JD(U) can be eliminated. “We won’t fight with the BJP without a reason. Our worst phase was 2014. Even then we had secured 17% votes,” he told party members.

The party’s general secretary KC Tyagi also lambasted the two ministers. “We are against communalism and ministers going to meet the accused is completely unacceptable,” Tyagi said, adding, “We are against the Nawada incident as well...we don't think it is right that a cabinet minister met the accused”.

To prove that its tough stance on communalism was not just posturing, the JD(U) reminded that it had pulled out of the mahagathbandhan in Bihar because the Congress failed to act against RJD despite allegations of corruption.

“Nitish Kumar had gone to meet Rahul Gandhi and took up the issue of corruption cases with him. Lalu was convicted and cases were registered against his deputy CM son (Tejashwi Yadav). We had expectations from him,” said the party general secretary.

Tyagi said that the alliance was ended by the Congress party and not the JD(U). “The lack of initiative against Tejashwi by Rahul Gandhi resulted in the break-up of the alliance,” he added.

The no-compromise approach adopted at the Sunday meeting was a stark reminder of five years ago, when Nitish Kumar had said a leader can only be one who is equally comfortable with Islamic skull cap and Hindu Tika, “jise topi bhi pahanana padega aur tika bhi lagala hoga”. The statement was a sharp negation of Modi, who had refused to wear a skull cap during his Sadbhawna Yatra.

But the circumstances around the statement then and now could not be more different. Nitish’s USP of being a sushasan babu (able administrator) is being doubted due to the rising number of communal clashes under his watch.

Since July last year, when Nitish Kumar quit the Grand Alliance and joined the ranks with the BJP to form government, the state has seen more than 200 cases of communal clashes.

The political scenario is also different, and the Bihar CM finds himself in a labyrinth of his own making.

When asked about the seat sharing dispute, he said that BJP is yet to place an offer, and only then will the party take a call. On what it would take to open a channel with Congress, he said, “Till the time Congress doesn’t stand against corrupt RJD, there can be no talks.”

Nitish’s frequent switching of alliances has given him the moniker of Mister U-turn in political circles, and he is once again looking to eke out a window of opportunity from this maze.

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