Giriraj Singh's iftar jibe at Nitish Kumar
Patna, June 4: A snide remark by Union minister and firebrand BJP leader Giriraj Singh on Tuesday over 'Iftaar' parties hosted by political leaders drew sharp criticism from Nitish Kumar's JD(U), an alliance partner of the NDA in the state.
"How beautiful would the picture have emerged, had phalaahaar (a fruit feast) been organized during Navaratra with the same fervour with splendid photographs taken. Why do we lag behind in observance of our own karm-dharm (religious customs) in public, while staying ahead in making a show for those of others," Singh tweeted in Hindi. Attached with the tweet were photographs taken at Iftaar parties hosted in Patna by the JD(U) on Sunday, and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM and NDA ally Lok Janshakti Party, headed by Ram Vilas Paswan, the day after.
A known detractor of Kumar since the days when he served in the state cabinet, Singh appeared to have aimed his barb specifically at the chief minister as all photographs featured him wearing a skullcap and a namaz kerchief covering his shoulders.
Interestingly, in one of the photographs taken at the "Iftaar" hosted by Paswan, Kumar was sharing space with his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi - a senior BJP leader who was among the hosts at an Iftaar hosted by his own party on Sunday. Lashing out at Singh, JD(U) MLC and state minister Ashok Chowdhury said, "Had anybody stopped Giriraj from arranging phalahaar during Navaratra? I wish to warn him, not the entire BJP, but him alone that he must refrain from making such statements."
"Giriraj must remember that his party is part of a coalition government in Bihar and he owes his stupendous victory in the Lok Sabha polls in no small measure to the support of our leader (Nitish Kumar)," Chowdhury said. Singh has retained Begusarai for the BJP defeating CPI's Kanhaiya Kumar by a margin of over four lakh votes.
JD(U) spokesman Sanjay Singh also reacted to the BJP leader's remark saying, "We have never taken utterances of Giriraj seriously. We have always believed in giving respect to all religions and hence we sport a 'tilak' and also wear skullcaps."
Notably, the JD(U) spokesman's 'tilak' and skullcap metaphor was a throwback to the developments of April, 2013, when at the party's national executive meet in New Delhi Nitish Kumar had used the same analogy to underscore ideological differences with the BJP, virtually paving the way for snapping of 17-year-old ties between the two parties. Having returned to the NDA two years ago, Kumar has however been insistent on the JD(U) maintaining a distinct ideological position, often at variance with that of the BJP.