Upset After Being Shown the Door, BJP Plays Hindutva Card Against Nitish
Nitish Kumar. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Patna: Nearly a fortnight after being ousted from power and yet to overcome the big jolt, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) on Tuesday targeted Chief Minister Nitish Kumar by using its well-tested Hindutva card, describing him as anti-Hindu and opposed to Hindu. This come a day after Bihar minister Mohammad Israil Mansuri accompanied Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to the famous Vishnupad temple in Gaya town, where the entry of non-Hindus was prohibited.
Opposition BJP has demanded an apology from both of them for insulting Hindus and hurting their sentiments.
However, there are no reports of anger and protests by people either in Gaya or elsewhere across the state over the issue.
Mansuri, a Pasmanda Muslim and a first-time minister, visited the Garbha Grih (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple along with Kumar, who offered prayers and rituals in the presence of priests, locally known as Panda. After a photo of Mansuri standing inside the temple went viral on social media, initially, some local BJP leaders and workers objected to it and pressurised the priests to publicly condemned it and wash the Garbha Grih with water of the river Ganga, considered pure and holy.
Later the temple was purified with Gangajal and a special puja was conducted for purification after a Muslim entered the temple.
Vishnupad is also popular among Hindu devotees who visit to perform “pind daan”, a religious service for ancestors during pitru paksha (the fortnight-long ancestor worship period as per Hindu custom) in September.
Sensing an issue to attack Kumar, BJP state president Sanjay Jaiswal said Kumar takes a Muslim minister along with him to the temple under a conspiracy to hurt the faith of Hindus. Kumar should tender an apology to Hindus publicly.”
Jaiswal, a BJP MP said that "Kumar has been visiting the temple in Gaya for a long time, he is aware of the fact that non-Hindu entry is prohibited but he deliberately takes a Muslim minister in the temple. This exposed his anti-Hindu mindset. In the past also Kumar acted against Hindus and was involved in anti-Hindu works."
Kumar has had a long political innings with the BJP, which ended on August 9, 2022. Kumar’s JD-U was an ally of the BJP since 1996 barring four years from 2013 to July 2017.
A saffron-clad BJP MLA Hari Bhushan Thakur, who has emerged as a firebrand Hindutva icon in the state, said that Mansuri should be sacked for violating the rules of a Hindu temple. Kumar is responsible for taking a Muslim inside the temple where their entry is banned, he has sinned.
A BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said that Kumar had played with "crores of Hindu sentiments" and he should apologise for it.
However, Mansuri, a senior RJD leader, in his statement clarified that controversy was created by BJP for vested interest as it was just a coincidence that he entered the sanctum sanctorum of the temple with the Chief Minister. “There was no intention, no conspiracy as talked about, it was a chance that he visited the temple with Kumar. I feel blessed to have got the opportunity for a darshan of the temple with the CM,” he said.
A senior JD-U leader Ashok Choudhary, who is a minister, said Mansuri must be unaware of the fact that non-Hindus entry into that temple was prohibited.
Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), another ally of JD-U questioned the motive of the BJP to raise the issue and linked it with a conspiracy and well-planned strategy to hurt Hindu sentiments. "BJP is frustrated in Bihar and all out to play the old polarisation politics," he said.
Kumar had earlier this month dumped BJP and joined hands with Mahagathbandhan and formed the new government in the state. Since then BJP repeatedly claimed that 'jungle raj' has returned to the state. This is the first time that the BJP has played its Hindutva politics after being ousted from power to attack Kumar.
BJP's actions can be seen in the context of Kumar's party projecting him as PM candidate of the united opposition in the 2024 elections against PM Narendra Modi.
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