Last Updated: January 16, 2023, 11:18 IST
There may not be another twist soon in the Bihar political scenario with the top leaders of the JDU-RJD tie-up seemingly in sync but the cracks are surely showing in the ruling alliance at levels below with uneasiness creeping in among many senior leaders.
The ‘Ramcharitmanas’ controversy triggered by Bihar’s Education Minister Chandrashekhar, who belongs to the RJD and said the religious text “promoted social discrimination”, has exposed these cracks. Not only is the JDU unhappy with the statement but there is division in the ranks in the RJD too over the controversy, given its potential to offend the majority community. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is mum over the matter while Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav broke his silence on Sunday, saying the alliance was strong and is cognisant of the statements given by “bayaan-veers” .
The JDU’s dilemma
There has been a sense of drift in the JDU after Nitish Kumar made it clear that Tejashwi Yadav will be the chief minister in 2025. BJP leaders claim senior JDU leaders are worried about their future and some of them are in touch with the BJP.
A key character in this realm is senior JDU leader Upendra Kushwaha who has been extremely critical of the education minister’s statement, saying such statements from RJD leaders end up helping the BJP.
Kushwaha has been taking potshots at his chief minister too. JDU leaders say Kushwaha’s exit from the party is imminent as he nursed hopes of being deputy chief minister but was denied the same. He was earlier a Union minister when he was with the BJP.
A BJP MP from Bihar, Pradeep Singh, has set the cat among the pigeons by saying BJP could do a ‘Maharashtra’ in Bihar by getting JDU leaders on board.
The JDU, meanwhile, has been fuming against the education minister’s statement. From party’s state chief Lallan Singh asking for action against the minister to JDU leader Ashok Chaudhary seeking withdrawal of the statement and demanding the minister’s apology, there has been condemnation from all quarters and JDU has insisted that it respects all religious books.
Divide in RJD
Chandrashekhar’s statement has divided the RJD too. The state chief of the party, Jagdanand Singh, has said he stands like a rock with the education minister and advocated that the ‘Mandal will never lose to Kamandal’. RJD vice-president Shivanand Tiwari, however, disagreed with the same and described the minister’s statement as wrong. Tiwari said one should only go by Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi’s statement on this issue.
BJP leaders claim that Lalu Prasad wants Tejashwi Yadav to be made the chief minister this year itself and hence, the unease between the JDU and RJD leadership is coming to the fore in the Chandrashekhar case with the RJD exercising its dominance. This reflects in Chandrashekhar sticking to his guns and refusing to take back his statement or apologise for the same.
“I stand by what I said. I am not against the Ramcharitmanas but one particular chaupai and I always skip it while reading the book as it stands against the backwards and spreads hate in the society,” Chandrashekhar has said. The BJP has seized the opportunity to go on an offensive, terming the JDU-RJD alliance as ‘anti-Hindu’ and Union minister Ashwini Choubey even sat on a ‘maun-vrat’ in protest in Bihar.
Will the RJD act against Chandrashekhar to settle the tensions in the ruling alliance? The jury is out in Bihar even as the alliance is still to complete six months in power.
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