Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday asserted that his government was committed to preserving communal harmony in the state and would act firmly against those who tried to create mischief.
The opposition RJD and Congress have been accusing Kumar of keeping silent over alleged attempts by BJP leaders to trigger communal polarisation in the state since he is running the government in the state with the support of the saffron party.
Kumar, who was addressing a youth conference here, did not name any BJP leaders, but expressed displeasure over some of their recent remarks and also charged the opposition RJD-Congress combine with trying to cash in on social disturbances.
“There are some people who think that causing tension in the society will bring in electoral dividends. We believe in peace and harmony. We are not concerned so much about votes as about betterment of voters,” Kumar, also the JD(U) president, said.
“There was a recent incident in Darbhanga where a BJP worker’s father was hacked to death. On hearing reports that it was linked to the naming of a public square after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I enquired from the DGP and was told that the reports were false and land dispute was behind the murder. Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi posted a tweet stating the same. Yet we heard all sorts of things in the aftermath,” the chief minister said.
The comments came in the backdrop of alleged inflammatory statements made by Union Minister Giriraj Singh and state BJP chief Nityanand Rai, both of whom had visited the concerned village in Darbhanga after the killing, flanked by party supporters who raised incendiary slogans against the local police.
“It was hugely disappointing to note that the deputy CM’s clarification found so little space in the media, while the rumour-mongering part was splashed all over. We live in worrying times when anybody takes to the social media to say anything,” he said.
“I am also concerned about the recent phenomenon of videos getting viral. Viral is a term we associate with febrile illness. Now, anybody posts any kind of content without thinking of the consequences, and it becomes viral,” Kumar said in an apparent reference to a video going viral about the recent incident in Araria where a few youths have been arrested for allegedly raising anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans.
The youths had figured in the video shot outside the house of Sarfaraz Alam, the RJD candidate, who won the recent Lok Sabha bypoll in Araria.
“Our government is never found wanting in promptness of action. Recently, a communal clash erupted in Bhagalpur after a procession was taken out without permission and the action we took is for everybody to see,” Kumar said in an apparent reference to lodging of FIRs, in one of which Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s son Arijit Shashwat has been named.
The chief minister came down heavily on the opposition RJD accusing it of trying to fish in troubled waters. “If you stall the proceedings of the House over such developments, you end up accentuating social tensions. Your intentions towards social harmony become suspect,” he said.
The RJD-Congress combine has, since yesterday, been disrupting proceedings of the state Assembly, seeking dismissal of Choubey and Singh from the union council of ministers, besides the arrest of the two as also that of Rai.
The JD(U) chief also criticised Congress president Rahul Gandhi for failure to support him when he was taking a stand over corruption cases lodged against RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, which ultimately led to his walking out of the Grand Alliance.
“I seek to remind him – you are the one who famously tore the ordinance sought to be brought by your own party’s government. Now is the time to live up to the reputation you had sought to build. Nothing came of it, though,” he said. “Look at what the Congress did to Ashok Choudhary. The party put up its best performance in Bihar, in the recent years, under his leadership. Yet he was sacked from the state president’s post,” Kumar added.