Patna: After objecting to the Centre’s proposal on implementing the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), Bihar chief minister (CM) Nitish Kumar’s party Janata Dal (United) has opposed its ally Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) demand for the removal of loudspeakers from religious places.
Several state BJP leaders had demanded the removal of loudspeakers from mosques. State mines minister and senior BJP leader Janak Chamar had said last Friday that Bihar should follow the example of Uttar Pradesh (UP) CM Yogi Adityanath in removing loudspeakers from religious places across the country.
“Religion is not above the law. Like UP, we will implement the same law in Bihar. All loudspeakers from mosques would be removed,” Chamar had said.
Soon after Chamar’s statement, senior JD(U) leader and rural development minister Shrawan Kumar said, “There is no need for such law in Bihar. We are against the imposition of law on religious places. The old system of use of loudspeakers from religious places will continue in the state.” Kumar, who is close to the CM, hails from his home district of Nalanda.
Another senior JD(U) leader Upendra Kushwaha made it clear that there is no problem with loudspeakers installed at religious places. “We have the Nitish Kumar model of governance, which treats and respects all communities equally. All religious places have loudspeakers for different uses,” the chairman of the JD(U) national parliamentary board said.
Shrawan and Kushwaha questioning the BJP’s demand for the removal loudspeakers from religious places is widely seen as a part of JD(U)’s efforts to corner its ally on the issue.
The UP government’s action to remove nearly 11,000 loudspeakers has been questioned by many who see the move in the holy month of Ramzan as primarily targeted at mosques.
The JD(U)’s latest opposition, soon after its objection to BJP’s plan to launch the bulldozer drive in the state, is being considered a part of Kumar’s strategy to send a message to the BJP’s top leadership in Delhi that his party will not follow its plan to polarise society further, according to a political observer.
Bihar’s political atmosphere has been heating up after Kumar’s third meeting with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav at an Iftar party within a week in the state capital. Kumar also surprised everyone when he visited the official residence of former CM Rabri Devi, wife of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, to attend an Iftar party last Friday.
A smiling Kumar was seen with the Yadavs after a gap of four-and-a-half years.
Though Kumar downplayed the meetings saying they were merely social events, the JD(U) invited Tejashwi and Rabri to an Iftar party two days ago. Kumar accompanied Tejashwi to his car to see him off. On Friday, Kumar and Tejashwi again met at an Iftar party hosted by former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, the founder of Hindustani Awam Morcha, an ally of National Democratic Alliance in the state.
The BJP has emerged as the single largest party after allegedly engineering a split in its ally Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) last month with all three VIP MLAs joining the saffron party. The BJP, which has fulfilled its long-awaited dream of becoming the single largest party in the state, is eyeing to replace Kumar with its leader.
On the other hand, the JD(U), with only 45 MLAs, is the third-largest party in the Assembly after the opposition RJD. Before the last Assembly elections, JD(U) used to have more MLAs than the BJP. After the BJP emerged as the big brother, the saffron party leaders started behaving differently and Kumar was forced to play second fiddle.