Updated: June 25, 2022 10:18:21 pm
In recent months, an uneasy calm has prevailed between the BJP and its ally Janata Dal (United). The relationship between the two parties has strained over a number of issues such as caste census, anti-Agnipath protests, population control, and “rewriting of history”.
In the last three days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made two political gestures to possibly signal that all was well between the allies. First, he called up Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to inform him about the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) decision to field former Jharkhand governor Droupadi Murmu as its presidential candidate. Then, on Friday, JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh, or Lalan Singh, sat in the front row as Murmu filed her nomination in Delhi.
Even as the BJP central leadership reached out to its ally and desisted from making an issue out of recent differences, state BJP president Dr Sanjay Jaiswal and JD(U) parliamentary board chairperson Upendra Kushwaha were involved in a spat on Friday.
The two leaders have always had it out for each other. On Friday, Jaiswal took to social media to take a dig at Kushwaha about how the JD(U) leader used to hold sit-ins to demand land for Kendriya Vidyalaya schools in Bihar when he was president of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP). Kushwaha merged his party with the JD(U) last year.
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In response, the JD(U) leader said whatever he had achieved was because of his hard work and talent and the “pages of his political career” were there to be seen. Getting personal, Kushwaha told Jaiswal, “Like you, I have not achieved anything on compassionate grounds.” He was referring to the BJP leader inheriting the legacy of his father and former West Champaran MP Madan Jaiswal. In a pointed reply, the state BJP chief said, “I have done MBBS and MD. I must have had the brains to achieve it.”
This war of words was triggered when Kushwaha, who was the Union minister of state for education in the first Narendra Modi government, promptly reacted to the BJP leader’s criticism of state education minister and JD(U) leader Vijay Kumar Choudhary over “delays in academic sessions of most Bihar universities”. Defending his party colleague, Kushwaha said the state government had been taking all steps to carry out educational reforms.
The two leaders had locked horns earlier this year too when controversial historian and BJP leader Daya Prakash Sinha likened Mauryan king Ashoka to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. With the entire Opposition up in arms over the comments, Jaiswal tried to play down the matter and said an FIR had been filed in the matter and the law would take its own course.
Kushwaha hit out at Jaiswal, saying that “filing of FIR does not mean anything” and the actual demand was to take back the historian’s Padma award. Kushwahas believe their origin lies in the Mauryan dynasty and claim that Chandragupta Maurya was a descendant of Kush, the son of Hindu deity Ram. Several Kushwaha leaders selectively portray Mauryan kings to further their politics.
At present, with his bête noire RCP Singh out of favour in the JD(U), Upendra Kushwaha has the opportunity to consolidate his place in the party.
With the JD(U) seeming to have buried its differences with the BJP, it remains to be seen if the bad blood between Kushwaha and Jaiswal manages to disturb this period of peace between the allies.
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