Patna, Sept. 23: Chief minister Nitish Kumar did not name the BJP — his ally-turned-foe — but made a pointed attack on the party for “stoking communal passion” for electoral gains in his address to the National Integration Council in New Delhi today.
“Recently in a small town in Bihar, offensive tableaux based on the political satire over majority-versus-majority issues were displayed in a religious procession. The event has been recorded and photographed to irrefutably prove that a religious occasion was being misused to stoke communal passion,” Nitish, in his seven-page speech, said.
The part of the speech, according to sources, referred to the tableaux brought out in north Bihar’s Bettiah town in August that obliquely suggested Nitish as saying, “Alpsankhyak voteron ko hum apna damaad bhi banana ko taiyar hain (I am ready to treat minority voters as sons-in-law)”. The tableaux had several other contents derisively portraying Nitish.
Though neither the BJP nor other wings of the Sangh parivar had owned the controversial tableaux that did the rounds in Bettiah town, police intelligence and JD(U) cadres smelt it as being the “handiwork” of the Hindutva forces to get back to their “divisive agenda” after the break-up of the JD(U)-BJP alliance.
“The administration, after great effort, was able to nip the problem and a major riot was prevented,” Nitish said in his speech today, adding that resorting to such actions might deliver short-term gains to some parties but they “eventually lead to weakening of the basic premise of our nation itself”.
Nitish did not confine his attack on the “divisive forces” at work to generate the atmosphere of frenzy and passion to Bihar only. He also brought into discussion the recent instance of the Chourasi Kosi Parikrama, which sadhus associated with the RSS tried to bring out in Uttar Pradesh.
Without specifically naming the RSS or BJP, the chief minister said: “There are sometimes given innovative names like yatra or parikrama, taken out anytime of the year and over a larger area. This is unwarranted. Religion which is largely a private affair, practised inside homes or places of worship is more and more becoming occasions for public show of strength. Any attempt to regulate or control such behaviour is taken as interference in religious freedom and communal passions are stirred.”
Nitish suggested strict legal measures to control the carrying of arms, violation of authorised routes, offensive utterances, lewd and loud music and exhibition of objectionable pictures and tableaux among others. He also suggested the adequate representation of the minority communities in the state police, army and central armed forces on the plea that the “minorities have traditionally suffered from low representation in police and armed forces”.
Nitish enumerated in detail the measures taken by his government to ensure justice to the 1989 Bhagalpur riot victims and improve the social, educational and living standard of the minority communities and disadvantaged sections of the society.