Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar on stressed on his opposition to corruption, crime and communalism, and asserted that those thinking of marginalising his party in the state would stand marginalised.
Kumar’s comments at the party’s national executive meeting came amid a strain in his ties with the BJP and appears to be a message to his ally, some of whose leaders have been linked to alleged communal tensions and violence in the state.
Amid speculation over his future move, Kumar, during the meeting, barely touched on the contentious issue of sharing of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar among NDA parties, saying the BJP is yet to make a proposal.
Only when the BJP makes a proposal, the JD(U) can decide if it is in the party’s interest, Kumar said, according to JD(U) secretary general KC Tyagi.
Briefing reporters, Tyagialso sought to scotch speculation that his party wanted to revive its alliance with the Lalu Prasad-led RJD, calling it “corrupt”.
He said his party is in the NDA and will fight the 2019 elections together with its allies.
The party has also authorised Kumar to take decisions on political issues, including allocation of seats.
JD(U) sources said that Kumar, in his speech, asserted that his party cannot be marginalised in Bihar and those thinking about it will be marginalised.
Kumar asserted that he has always been against corruption, crime and communalism. The remarks appeared to be aimed at those, including his rivals and some within the BJP, who have claimed that the Bihar chief minister’s political stock has gone down due to his flip-flops on alliances and that he no longer has the same influence.
Following the speech of the chief minister, who has often expressed reservation against Hindutva politics of some BJP leaders in Bihar, the JD(U) hit out at Union ministers Giriraj Singh and Jayant Sinha.
While Singh met some persons accused of rioting and claimed that the state government was suppressing Hindus, Sinha had garlanded people convicted of lynching a man in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district.
“We do not think what they have done is good. We condemn it,” Tyagi said.
Referring to comments of some Congress leaders who had hinted that they are willing to join hands with Kumar again if he breaks ties with the BJP, Tyagi said a debate over it is meaningless until the Congress ends its relationship with a “corrupt party” like the RJD. Asked if the JD(U) would hold talks with the Congress if it snaps ties with the RJD, Tyagi said the Congress is unlikely to break its alliance with Prasad’s party.
“Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s lack of initiative against corruption cases involving the RJD leadership had buried any future for their alliance,” Tyagi said.
He underscored the JD(U)’s importance in Bihar, saying that it is the only state where some surveys have shown that the NDA would be doing very well in the next elections.
The 2014 Lok Sabha elections were the worst for the JD(U), but it still bagged 17 per cent of the votes, Tyagi said, noting that it bounced back in 2015 and won the Assembly polls.
To repeated questions about the fate of the JD(U)’s alliance with the BJP amid attacks from the saffron party’s leaders against the state government, Tyagi said the JD(U) is proud of its ideology and will never dilute it.
“We have not merged with the BJP. Both have different ideologies,” he said, noting that socialists parties have had a history of alliance and split with the BJP.
The JD(U), he said, will also contest on select seats in the Assembly polls in four states, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram. It had also contested independently in the Gujarat and the Nagaland polls.
Earlier, many party leaders, including Rajya Sabha member RCP Singh, considered close to Kumar, played down their party’s differences with the BJP and asserted that they would contest the Lok Sabha elections together and win in Bihar.
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