Rift between Bihar’s ruling alliance partners appeared to have widened on Monday with the BJP issuing a stern warning to the JD(U) on its leaders’ tweets to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A day earlier, the State BJP president and party leaders had questioned the government’s liquor policy and demanded a “serious review”.
“We all have to be within limits in the alliance. It cannot be one-sided any more. And, the first condition is that you [JD-U leaders] cannot play Twitter-Twitter with the country’s Prime Minister as he is the pride of every BJP worker. If you raise questions with him, then 76 lakh BJP workers in Bihar know how to respond. I do believe that we all will be careful in future,” Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal said in a long post on social media on Monday.
Mr. Jaiswal was apparently targeting two JD(U) leaders Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh and Upendra Kushwaha. Mr. Singh is JD(U) MP from Munger and the party’s national president, while Mr. Kushwaha is the party’s parliamentary board chairman. Both the leaders had recently urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the Padma Shri award conferred on noted playwright Daya Shankar Sinha for drawing a parallel between King Ashoka and Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.
This comparison was promptly condemned by leaders of the JD(U), RJD and BJP.
Mr. Jaiswal even filed an FIR against Mr. Sinha in Patna and demanded that the Nitish Kumar government arrest him.
But JD(U) leaders requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the Padma Shri award. “There can’t be anything more absurd than asking PM to take back the award as there has not been such precedent in the last 74 years. There is no clear guideline on taking back such awards,” Mr. Jaiswal said in his post.
“Why are Nitish Kumar’s party leaders asking for the award to be withdrawn instead of arresting Mr Sinha?” wondered Mr Jaiswal.
On Sunday, Mr. Jaiswal had questioned Nitish Kumar government’s liquor policy following the death of 11 people in Nalanda’s hooch tragedy. “If the State administration wants to enforce prohibition and uproot illegal trade in liquor, it will have to destroy the illegitimate nexus of administration, police and liquor mafia”, Mr Jaiswal said in a social media post. Other State BJP leaders demanded a serious review of State Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 as “its implementation in the State has been a failure”. Former Chief Minister and president of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) Jitan Ram Manjhi too demanded “review of the liquor law”.
Meanwhile, reacting to Mr. Jaiswal’s post on Monday, JD(U) leader Upendra Kushwaha said, “I agree with what the Bihar BJP chief has said in his long post that all alliance parties should follow coalition dharma. But we’ll not back down on our demand to withdraw Padma Shri award given to Mr. Daya Shankar Sinha”.
Another senior JD(U) leader and State Education Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhury said, “I wonder how some politicians can demand a review of the prohibition law despite the fact that it was supported by all in the State assembly twice... Will these people ever demand review of the law against heinous crimes like murder, loot and rape?”