The tension in Bihar’s ruling alliance flared up again today with state BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal’s disparaging remarks towards Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United. Speaking at a programme in Bettiah, Mr Jaiswal said “I laugh at the actions of JD(U). They said that there ought to be a rethink on ‘Agniveer’ Scheme. I say they need to put on their thinking caps and think about the youth in college completing their studies on time”.
Then he explained: “A guy who has studied till Class 10 will be educated till 12th class. A 12th -pass student won’t have to wait for second year, third year exams. When he finishes his four years in the Army, he has to give tests for only two subjects because he is being trained under the scheme”.
A quick rebuttal came from JD(U) parliamentary party chief Upendra Kushwaha.
“People should think carefully while making such remarks. Using their concerns to divert (attention) is not right. The Bihar government does not have much of a say in the running of Central universities. Educated people know that,” he told reporters when asked about the matter.
The swap in status of the BJP and the JD(U) following the last assembly election, where the BJP ended up as the big brother and the JD(U) being relegated to the second spot, has taken a toll on the alliance.
The recent protests over the Centre’s Agnipath scheme — which was the loudest and most violent in Bihar, leading damage of much public property — have worsened the situation.
While Nitish Kumar had been silent on the Agnipath issue, senior leaders of his party including Mr Kushwaha and Lalan Singh tweeted on the matter, urging the Centre to have a dialogue with the protesters.
There has been no response from the state government to BJP requests of announcing a ten per cent reservation in recruitment in Bihar Police for Agniveers.
There were also allegations that a section of the a section of JD(U) fuelled the protests in the state.
The BJP criticism of the Nitish Kumar government’s handling of the situation has been taken as an affront by the JD(U).
Mr Jaiswal – one of the sharpest critics — has openly accused the administration of turning a blind eye to the protests. Mr Kumar’s close aide Rajiv Ranjan had attributed his comments to “mental imbalance”.
The JD(U) has now demanded that the “coordination committee” which existed during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee era and served as a platform where differences among allies were ironed out, be revived.
In a recent interview to news agency Press Trust of India, JD(U) chief national general secretary K C Tyagi took strong exception to what he called “second-rung BJP leaders in Bihar belittling our leader every now and then”, asserting that “nobody in the JD(U) has ever been disrespectful towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.