The ruling coalition’s pinpricks in Bihar seem to be unrelenting. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar remains upset about being denied more than one cabinet spot in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Now a BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh has added one more provocation.
In a tweet this morning, Giriraj Singh appeared to take a swipe at BJP allies – and even his own party colleague Sushil Modi – all seen smiling together in group photos at an Iftar party. “How beautiful would this picture have been if a Navratri meal would have been organised with the same eagerness. Why do we hold back on our own faith and get into pretence?”
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
The accompanying photos feature Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi of the BJP and allies Nitish Kumar, Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan. Also in the picture is the host, Jitan Ram Manjhi of the Hindustan Awam Morcha (Secular), which was a part of the opposition coalition.
They are seen in white kurtas, a traditional cap and scarves.
Notorious for his controversial no-filter comments, Giriraj Singh is the Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries in PM Modi’s new cabinet. Against most predictions, he won the national election from Begusarai in Bihar – unfamiliar territory for him – with a four lakh plus margin of victory over someone many saw as a strong rival, Kanhaiya Kumar.
His comments add to the strain within the ruling coalition after a dispute over cabinet berths.
Janata Dal United spokesperson Sanjay Singh hit back at the Union Minister. “He’s in the habit of making such statements and needs a mental check-up now,” Sanjay Singh said.
Chirag Paswan, chairman of the Lok Janshakti parliamentary board, said “everyone knows what kind of man Giriraj Singh ji is” and the party “would like to tell him that we observe all festivals, whether Navratri or Ramzan”.
Last week, Nitish Kumar said his Janata Dal United would not join PM Modi’s government because one cabinet spot was unacceptable to him.
The JDU and the BJP contested 17 seats each in 40-seat Bihar, leaving the rest for smaller allies. The BJP won all, the JDU won 16 seats.
Nitish Kumar went public with his resentment, saying he did not agree with BJP president Amit Shah about “symbolic representation” for allies after the party’s rich haul of 303 in the 543-member Lok Sabha, which meant it didn’t really need any support to form the government.
In the season of Iftar gatherings, the rift is seen to have become more pronounced with the JDU and BJP leaders missing from each other’s parties. Nitish Kumar even expanded his cabinet, including eight JDU ministers and leaving only one position for the BJP.
Officially, both parties maintain their ties are strong as ever.
Sanjay Singh, a spokesman of Nitish Kumar’s party, said Giriraj Singh was in the habit of making loose statements and “needs a mental check-up”.
And Chirag Paswan added, “Everyone knows the kind of man Giriraj Singh is. But we would like to tell him that we observe all festivals, be it Navratri or Ramzan.”