Union Minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh drew sharp criticism from his party and its Bihar NDA allies after he posted photographs of iftar parties hosted by state political leaders asking why such events were not organised on navratri.
Posting on Twitter photographs of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy CM Sushil Modi and LJP chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan at iftar parties in Patna, Singh said: “Kitni khoobsurat tasvir hoti jab itni hi chahat se navratri pe phalahaar ka aayojan karte aur sundar sundar photo aate??… Apne karm dharm mei hum pichad kyon jaate aur dhikhava mei aage rehte hain???”
“(What a beautiful picture it would have been if they had organised a fruit feast during Navratri with the same alacrity and taken beautiful photographs. Why do we lag behind in observing our own religious customs and take the lead in putting on an appearance?)”.
The BJP’s Bihar allies reacted sharply, reminding Singh about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent appeal of sabka saath, sabka vikas and sabka vishwas and demanding that the BJP leadership take action.
Sources said that following the criticism, BJP chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah dialled Singh and rebuked him for his tweets attacking NDA leaders. According to sources, Shah also asked him to refrain from making comments that target allies. However, Singh until late Tuesday did not retract his remarks, which are still on his Twitter timeline.
According to ANI, Nitish Kumar responded to Singh’s tweet and said, “He (Giriraj Singh) does all this so that media makes news out of it.” But JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi said Singh’s tweet was against the spirit of the NDA and against the statement of Prime Minister Modi who, at the first meeting of NDA MPs after the Lok Sabha victory, had asked to win the trust of minorities.
“This roja iftari, attended by Nitish Kumar, Sushil Modi and Ram Vilas Paswan, was an effort to win the confidence of the minority community,” Tyagi said, adding that the Prime Minister has cautioned party leaders from making such remarks.
The LJP’s central parliamentary board chairman Chirag Paswan tweeted, “The fundamental principle of sabka saath, sabhka vikas, sabka vishwas is in the spirit of LJP since its foundation. I am happy that PM Narendra Modi too has repeated that mantra. Festival celebrations brings harmony in society. Such questions raise fingers on Indian traditions.”
The remark from Giriraj Singh, BJP MP from Begusarai, also comes at a time when ties between the BJP and JD(U) are already strained over the composition of the Union Cabinet. While the JD(U) decided to stay out of the Modi cabinet, Nitish Kumar recently expanded his Cabinet in Bihar unilaterally without any additional representation to the BJP.
Singh’s remark also drew strong disapproval from Sushil Kumar Modi, Singh’s senior in the BJP. “I have been hosting iftar parties for 25 years. I also organise Holi Milan feasts. Those who are coming up with taunts do not have the heart to offer a treat to people on Holi… How would they appreciate the catholicity of a Hindu hosting iftar party?” Modi said, according to PTI. He also said he was unaware of Singh’s tweet and was only responding to queries from journalists.