New Delhi/Patna: Union minister Giriraj Singh on Tuesday mocked his NDA colleagues for attending ‘iftaar‘ parties, drawing sharp reactions from them that prompted BJP president Amit Shah to rebuke the fiery Hindutva leader and ask him to refrain from making such comments.
Shah stepped in to douse the fire in the ruling coalition after Singh’s tweet riled BJP’s key allies from Bihar, including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP.
Singh posted four pictures of Bihar NDA leaders, including Kumar and Paswan, attending ‘iftaar‘ parties and put out this snide tweet: “How beautiful would the picture have emerged, had phalahaar (a fruit feast) been organised during Navaratra with the same fervour with splendid photographs taken. Why do we lag behind in observance of our own karm-dharm (religious customs) in public, while staying ahead in pretension,” he tweeted in Hindi.
कितनी खूबसूरत तस्वीर होती जब इतनी ही चाहत से नवरात्रि पे फलाहार का आयोजन करते और सुंदर सुदंर फ़ोटो आते??…अपने कर्म धर्म मे हम पिछड़ क्यों जाते और दिखावा में आगे रहते है??? pic.twitter.com/dy7s1UgBgy
— Shandilya Giriraj Singh (@girirajsinghbjp) June 4, 2019
A known detractor of Kumar since the days when he served in the state cabinet under him, Singh appeared to have aimed his barb specifically at the chief minister as all photographs featured him wearing a skullcap and a namaz kerchief covering his shoulders.
Senior Bihar BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi were also seen in one of the pictures.
The photographs were of iftaar parties hosted by Lok Janshakti Party president Paswan and opposition leader Jitan Ram Manjhi in Patna.
The Begusarai MP’s remarks met with nonchalance from Kumar, who told journalists: “He indulges in such antics so that you people make him newsy.”
The remarks also met with strong disapproval from Sushil Kumar Modi, Singh’s senior in the BJP. “I have been hosting Iftaar 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 iftaar party?” Modi said.
He said he was unaware of Singh’s tweet and was only responding to the inputs from journalists.
Apparently sensing the tension between the BJP and the JD(U) following Kumar’s refusal to join the Narendra Modi government, Sushil Modi said, “Let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind. The NDA in Bihar is intact and all efforts to drive a wedge between allies are doomed to fail”.
The tweet from Singh, whose hardline Hindutva views have often sparked controversies, also drew sharp reactions from BJP’s allies with LJP leader Chirag Paswan saying his remarks amounted to questioning Indian traditions.
Chirag Paswan said his party believed in “sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas“, a slogan coined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a recent NDA meeting.
Lashing out at Singh, JD(U) leader and state minister Ashok Chowdhury said, “Had anybody stopped Giriraj from arranging phalahaar during Navaratra?”
“Giriraj must remember that his party is part of a coalition government in Bihar and he owes his big victory in the Lok Sabha poll in no small measure to the support of our leader (Nitish Kumar),” Chowdhury said.
As fire within the ruling coalition raged, Shah called up Singh and rebuked him for his tweets attacking the NDA leaders, sources said. The BJP president also asked him to refrain making such comments targeting allies, they said. After Kumar, who is also JD(U) president, declined one ministerial berth offered to his party by the BJP in the Modi government, the ties between the two main Bihar parties have strained.
After the Modi government was sworn in, Kumar expanded his ministry by inducting eight members from his party. No BJP member was part of the expansion. NDA sources believe that disparaging comments by Singh have the potential to harm the ties between the two parties. This may have prompted Shah to step in, they added.