Tejashwi Yadav responds tentatively to his party colleague’s controversial comment

Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister blames the BJP for conspiring to break up the grand alliance in the State; says only two leaders of the mahagathbandhan really matter — Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar

January 16, 2023 08:52 pm | Updated 08:52 pm IST - Patna

Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav.

Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav. | Photo Credit: PTI

Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav has stated guardedly that the Constitution of India is the “holiest book” in the plethora of “religious” texts. “The Constitution has given everyone the right to express their feelings. At the same time, the Constitution also says that we must respect all religions,” Mr. Yadav said while addressing media persons at the Patna airport on his return from Delhi.

This was Mr. Yadav’s maiden attempt at toning down the impact of the controversy triggered by Education Minister and senior Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Chandra Shekhar on the Ramcharitmanas. Mr. Chandra Shekhar had said that Tulsidas’ epic had “spread hatred in society” because of certain casteist ideas.

RJD State unit president Jagadanand Singh supported Mr. Chandra Shekhar in public, after which the party’s national vice president, Shivanand Tiwari, said that the comments were Mr. Chandra Shekhar’s personal views.

Mr. Yadav further alleged that the BJP, unnerved by the work done by the Bihar Government in terms of jobs being provided, and the caste-based census, was behind the controversy. BJP leaders, including Rajya Sabha member from Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, have been demanding that Mr. Chandra Shekhar be removed from the State Cabinet.

Mr. Yadav also stressed that there were only two leaders in the seven-party mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) that has presently formed the government — Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar — who enjoy people’s support. “Those who are speaking a lot are bayanveers (oversharers),” Mr. Yadav said.

Petitions have been filed in courts in Bihar, accusing the Minister of “hurting religious sentiments”. Leaders from the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), also a part of the mahagathbandhan, are demanding that Mr. Chandra Shekhar withdraw the statement.

Without naming Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J.P. Nadda, Mr. Yadav alleged that two top leaders of the BJP had recently visited Bihar to advise local BJP leaders on creating a rift within the grand alliance. “There is no question of a break-up in the grand alliance. BJP leaders are scared ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls,” Mr. Yadav said.

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor, speaking on the controversy, has predicted that the grand alliance will not have the same formation in the next Assembly election in Bihar. He was addressing the media during his ongoing Jan Suraaj Padyatra, which started in October 2022 to understand grassroot realities and prepare a vision document for the State.

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