Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was scheduled to take part in a function commemorating the birth anniversary of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka in Bihar’s Sasaram on Sunday, cancelled his trip following communal tension in the area after a clash between two groups during a Ram Navami procession. Prohibitory orders are still in force in the town.
Shah, however, will address a public meeting at Nawada on Sunday as per schedule. This is part of his region-wise tour of Bihar after having addressed public meetings at Purnia and West Champaran.
“Union minister of state for home affairs Nityanand Rai assessed the Sasaram situation and even offered deployment of central forces for Amit Shahji’s meeting but the state government did not react to it. As prohibitory orders have been in force in Sasaram, we cannot hold a meeting there,” BJP state president Samrat Choudhary told reporters.
The new BJP president called it a “sabotage” attempt by the Bihar government. “CM Nitish Kumar has perhaps been finding ways to keep the Union home minister at bay from Bihar. But one thing has become clear… Nitish Kumar is not able to control Bihar now. He is not even able to prevent law and order situations in his hometown of Biharsharif, Nalanda,” he added.
Sasaram and Biharsharif are the district headquarters of Rohtas and Nalanda. Prohibitory orders were imposed in both towns after communal flare-ups were reported over Ram Navami processions.
A senior BJP leader said that Shah’s Sasaram visit held great political significance as the OBC Kushwaha community sees Emperor Ashoka as their icon. “The Shahabad region, of which Sasaram is a part, has a sizable Kushwaha population. It could have provided an opportunity to play up the elevation of Samrat Choudhary, a Kushwaha leader, to state BJP chief. Nitish Kumar looks nervous with apprehensions of Choudhary having the potential to split his core OBC Kurmi-Koeri votes,” the leader said.
However, JD (U) MLC and spokesperson Neeraj Kumar told The Indian Express, “BJP leaders are telling lies. Local administration was ready for Amit Shah’s rally. BJP cancelled Shah’s trip because it had not been sure of getting a good crowd. Sasaram has been the land of Babu Jagjivan Ram. The Centre has discontinued a scheme named after him. BJP has no presence in Shahabad region, which has long been a land of socialists.”