'Boycotting Anchors, Criticising Ramcharitmanas, Women's Reservation Bill...': Nitish Kumar's Rift With I.N.D.I. Alliance On Major Issues Grows

Bhuvan Krishna

Sep 20, 2023, 02:51 PM | Updated 02:51 PM IST

Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar.
Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar.
  • The I.N.D.I. Alliance is not entirely aligned on important matters such as the Women's Reservation Bill and caste census. There are differences of opinion within the alliance on these issues.
  • Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, also the leader of Janata Dal (United), has expressed his readiness for an early Lok Sabha election.

    However, he appears to be growing apart from the opposition I.N.D.I. Alliance and his senior partner in Bihar's ruling Mahagathbandhan, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), on several issues.

    One of the issues causing discomfort for Nitish is the alleged attempt by the RJD to promote "backward versus forward" politics through its Education Minister Chandra Shekhar, who continues to criticise Ramcharitmanas.

    Last Saturday (16 September), Nitish claimed to have no knowledge of the I.N.D.I. Alliance's decision to boycott 14 television anchors across multiple channels. The bloc accused these anchors of engaging in hate speech.

    In contrast, his deputy and RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav defended the decision.

    Nitish clarified that some members of the opposition alliance may have had concerns about the TV anchors, leading them to make this decision.

    He stated, "I have no idea about this. But I have always supported the freedom of the press, which is currently under attack from those in power at the Centre. Once we defeat the current administration, I assure you full freedom to practice your profession."

    Recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has taken a less aggressive approach towards targeting Nitish and during a rally in Madhubani, Union Home Minister Amit Shah compared Nitish to "water" and Lalu to "oil", suggesting that they do not mix well.

    Shah also did not reiterate the claim that the BJP has permanently closed its doors to Nitish.

    According to a report from The Indian Express, Nitish is disappointed with his allies in the I.N.D.I. Alliance due to a perceived lack of coordination and communication.

    According to the same report, a JD(U) leader stated, “Right from how joint rallies should be planned to how Left parties should be taken into confidence, to what should be the INDIA’s stand on caste census, we need more clarity.”

    The opposition bloc's constituents have not been entirely aligned on important matters such as the Women's Reservation Bill and caste census. There are differences of opinion within the alliance on these issues.

    The JD(U) has expressed disapproval of Chandra Shekhar's repeated criticism of Tulsidas's epic.

    The party's chief spokesperson, Neeraj Kumar, emphasised the importance of focusing on governance rather than sensitive religious matters. Neeraj downplayed any differences within the I.N.D.I Alliance.

    According to RJD national spokesperson Subodh Kumar Mehta, there may be some differences in state-wise alliances, but the main focus should be on strengthening the bloc. Despite doubts raised by certain individuals, it is important to move forward and overcome them.

    Mehta also stated that his party agrees with the JD(U) on the importance of ministers prioritising governance rather than making comments on sensitive issues.

    He emphasised that their stance on the Women's Reservation Bill is clear, advocating for a "quota within quota" for OBC women.

    Mehta criticised the timing of the Bill, seeing it as a political move under pressure from the formation of the I.N.D.I.A bloc, as it was introduced just eight months before the Lok Sabha polls.

    Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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