Other States

Nitish Kumar should address issues I raised at NDA meeting: Nikki Hembrom

Nikki Hembrom  

Bihar Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Nikki Hembrom, who had earlier alleged that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had used “foul” language against her at a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) legislators’ meeting, said on Saturday that Mr. Kumar was “like a guardian” to her and that he must address the issues of tribal people she had raised at the meeting.

The BJP MLA from Katoria (Scheduled Tribe) Assembly constituency in Banka district is also national secretary of the BJP ST Morcha. She had earlier accused Mr. Kumar of calling her “beautiful” during a meeting of ruling NDA legislators on November 29. The meeting was called for the suggestions from NDA legislators over effective implementation of Prohibition in the State.

“I was shocked and hurt over what Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said, which was objectionable. I cannot speak of it again and again but that was an individual issue and Mr. Kumar is like a guardian to me. He [Mr. Kumar] must address the issues I raised for the welfare of tribal people,” Ms. Hembrom told The Hindu over phone on Saturday.

However, party sources said Ms. Hembrom later raised the issue of “foul language” used by the Chief Minister against her with some BJP legislators.

Later still, in a meeting in which about 20 BJP legislators were said to be present, the issue was discussed, and senior party leader and Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad was to speak to the CM about it. The BJP legislators’ meeting was held ahead of a five-day winter session of the Bihar Assembly.

But Ms. Hembrom refused to admit that she had raised the issue before any party forum. “I am not aware of any such meeting on the issue. At least, I was not invited to such a meeting. It was an individual issue — whether I’m beautiful or ugly — but the issue of tribal people should be of prime concern,” she maintained.

In the meeting of NDA legislators, Ms. Hembrom had suggested providing alternative employment opportunities to tribal people engaged in brewing mahua (an alcoholic drink) but she was “rebuked” by the Chief Minister.

“I belong to the Scheduled Tribes and represent a constituency where people have traditionally been brewing mahua, which has now been banned under the Prohibition law. As an MLA of the constituency, it was my duty to raise the issue,” Ms. Hembrom, who defeated the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Sweety Sima Hembrom as her nearest rival in the 2020 Assembly poll, said.

When Ms. Hembrom was making suggestions, the CM, a party source who did not wish to be named said, abruptly rose to say, “You [Ms. Hembrom] are so beautiful. How can you say such things?” The CM had further said, according to this source, “It seems you [Ms. Hembrom] never visit your constituency as you do not know that the State Government has taken several measures for the welfare of tribal communities engaged in mahua brewing.” The party source said he was present at the meeting that went on for nearly two hours.

“How can the Chief Minister say that I do not visit my constituency? He should get it probed and be well-informed before making such a sweeping comment,” Ms. Hembrom told The Hindu, adding, “That hurt me more.”

When asked if she wished an expression of remorse or regret from Mr. Kumar, she replied, “No, no, there is no need for him to say sorry to me or feel regret as he is like guardian but he must address the issues of tribal people I raised in the meeting.”

When asked, a senior Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader, also preferring anonymity, told The Hindu that the CM had made the comment in the meeting in “a lighter vein” and it shouldn’t be taken in its “literal meaning”. JD(U) leader and Minister Lesi Singh said, “I was present in the meeting and what the Chief Minister intended to explain to the BJP MLA was that he has always been sensitive to the needs and aspirations of women and it was at their behest that he [Mr. Kumar] had taken the decision to ban alcohol in the State.”

“Words can be taken out of context and have a different meaning from the one intended,” Ms. Singh added.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 8:07:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/nitish-kumar-should-address-issues-i-raised-at-nda-meeting-nikki-hembrom/article37845219.ece

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