Pinpricks for new Nitish govt amid 'love jihad' talk

Pinpricks for new Nitish Kumar government as Giriraj Singh bats for law against 'love jihad'

Five BJP-ruled states have already shown inclination for a law against 'love jihad'

Nitish Kumar. Credit: PTI file photo.

Union Minister Giriaraj Singh batting for a law against 'love jihad' in NDA-ruled Bihar could be the first pinprick for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who heads a  coalition government with a wafer-thin majority in Bihar, with his party JD(U) being a junior partner.

Singh, who has invited Kumar's scorn for making controversial comments earlier as well, said this time that the Bihar Chief Minister should bring a law to check "love jihad", which he claimed has become a menace in the country.

Unlike in the last two years when senior BJP leaders were quick to distance themselves from controversial remarks of Giriraj Singh, which could annoy Nitish, no BJP leader has so far made remarks distancing from or disapproving of Singh's remarks.

JD(U) Bihar President Bashishtha Narayan Singh was evasive on the issue when asked during a press conference in Patna saying it is not necessary that if someone gives a comment then there should be a discussion.

Later, a JD(U) spokesperson dismissed the demand saying his party does not believe in dividing the society but taking all sections together and making  it clear that Nitish Kumar is not someone who will follow any other party's agenda.

Kumar has often said that he has zero tolerance for the three Cs: crime, corruption and communalism. Even in the middle of the election campaign for Bihar, Kumar had rebuffed UP CM Yogi Aditynath's remarks on CAA as "faltu baat" (useless thing).

While Yogi said in a rally in Katihar, "Modi ji has found a solution to the infiltration problem in the form of the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). And those infiltrators who try to undermine the sovereignty and integrity of the country will be thrown out," Kumar was quick to distance from the remarks in another rally in Kishanganj saying "some people are spreading propaganda. Who will get whom out of the country? No one has the power to throw anyone out as everyone belongs to India. We've always created an environment of harmony and tried to unite everyone."

Both Kishanganj and Katihar are in Seemanchal region of Bihar, where Muslims have substantial population.

The elections threw big success for BJP making it the second largest party in the state after RJD and the lead partner in state NDA with JD(U)'s tally substantially coming down, which has altered internal power equations within the ruling alliance, where Nitish Kumar was the big brother for the last over a decade.

Bihar BJP leaders Giriraj Singh and Ashwani Choubey in past did not have the best of relationship with Nitish Kumar but they went slow after BJP realised that staying together with Kumar is the best option for it both in 2019 Lok Sabha polls and 2020 Assembly polls.

It was after a long gap that Singh spoke on Friday on the contentious issue of love jihad urging Kumar to realize that issues like love jihad and population control had nothing to do with sampradayikta (communalism) but are about samajik samrasta (social harmony).

Five BJP-ruled states Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, and Himachal Pradesh have already expressed inclination for such a law. UP government's Home Ministry has also sent a proposal in this regard to the Law Ministry.

The row over love jihad comes soon after a newly-sworn in JD(U) Minister Mewa Lal Choudhary had to resign hours after taking oath as education minister as the Opposition had raised an uproar over his inclusion in the state cabinet citing corruption allegations against.

BJP is reported to have prevailed upon the state government to now allow him to continue in the ministry. In 2016 when Mewa Lal was a minister in Nitish-led JD(U)-RJD-Congress government, BJP, which was in Opposition then, had even sought the arrest of Mewa Lal in a case. Aware that the past could come to haunt it, the BJP convinced Nitish Kumar to drop the minister.

In the new Nitish government, Sushil Kumar Modi, who was close to Nitish was not included as Deputy Chief Minister even as the BJP has two Dy CMs in the state cabinet.