Patna: Amid speculation of political realignment in Bihar, chief minister Nitish Kumar’s party Janata Dal (United) on Tuesday countered its ruling ally Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) MLA Hari Bhushan Thakur, who demanded closure of madràsas in the state.
Senior JD-U leader Salim Perwez opposed Thakur saying that “masjid, madrasa aur kabristan”( mosque, madrasa and graveyard) are protected and safe till Kumar is CM (chief minister).
Thakur, who has emerged as a "firebrand Hindutva icon" in the state, supported Assam chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s latest move to convert dissolved madrasas into general schools and demanded closure of madrasas in Bihar. “Madrasas promote terror and educate to become terrorist and produce only Maulvi or Maulana. Education should be to help children to become IAS,IPS, doctor and engineer”, he said.
This is not the first time a BJP leader has raised the issue of madràsa in the state. In the recent past, one after another BJP leaders have targeted the functioning of madràsas, mainly those located along the Nepal and Bangladesh borders, alleging their involvement in terror.
BJP leaders along with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal have been attacking the running of madrasas in Muslim-populated Seemanchal region comprising Purnea, Araria, Kishanganj and Katihar districts, painting them in bad colour and demanding a probe into their funding.
Perwez, who is also state president of the JD-U minority cell, said Bihar was neither Uttar Pradesh nor Assam as the government led by Kumar cannot allow discrimination and suppression of constitutional rights. “There is no fear of safety and security under the Kumar- led government”, he added.
Early this month, JD-U objected to the Centre's proposal to implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and opposed Union Home minister Amit Shah's announcement to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) once the COVID-19 situation is over.
A political watcher said JD-U's stand could be seen as part of Kumar's strategy to send a political message to ally BJP’s top leadership in Delhi that his party will not follow the saffron party's plan to polarise society further.
In the past few months, JD-U and have Kumar expressed differences with BJP on four issues -- caste-based Census, the Pegasus spyware scandal, removal of loudspeakers from religious places and population control. The latest stand on CAA is another example of an uncomfortable relationship with BJP. However, Kumar has mastered managing a working relationship with BJP to run the government with it.
Going by the growing bitterness betweenJD-U and BJPand Kumar’s decision to go ahead to conduct a caste-based Census in the state, ignoring BJP’s strong reservation, political circles sense some political realignment.
Speculation has been rife since the past nearly one month after Kumar surprised everyone when he visited the official residence of former CM Rabri Devi, wife of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, to attend an Iftar party. After a gap of four and half years, Kumar was seen in the company of Prasad's family. Later, he downplayed it, saying it was a social event with no politics. Subsequently, Kumar met Prasad’s son Tejashwi at another Iftar party organised by JD(U) and escorted him to his car after it ended.
Last week, Kumar invited Tejashwi, who is Opposition leader in the Assembly, to his official residence and discussed the issue of a caste census in the state in an unusual closed-door meeting for nearly an hour, ignoring the BJP’s strong reservations.
This political development has resulted in a strong buzz that Kumar may take some sudden political decision based on his “conscience”, as he did twice or thrice in the past. He may surprise once again due to increasing pressure from BJP to vacate the CM’ post and move to Delhi as vice president, as widely reported in recent days.
But, everything depends on how comfortable Kumar is at present with BJP, an old ally.