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CAA impact: After Akali Dal, rumblings in JD(U) over tie-up with BJP

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 21, 2020

Pavan K Varma, JD(U) spokesperson   -  The Hindu

JD(U) leader Pavan Varma asks Nitish Kumar for ‘ideological clarity’ on aligning with the BJP in Delhi

After the Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) refusal to contest Delhi elections in alliance with the BJP over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAA), unease in the ruling party’s Bihar ally, the JD(U), was out in the open on Tuesday. The JD(U) spokesperson, former foreign service officer and author, Pavan K Varma, demanded ‘ideological clarity’ from party chief Nitish Kumar.

In a letter to the Bihar Chief Minister, Varma made public Nitish Kumar’s private apprehensions about the BJP-RSS combine leading the country into a ‘dangerous space’ and asked him to explain how the party could ally with the BJP in Delhi in the context of the ongoing protests over the CAA.

After contesting the recent Jharkhand elections on its own, the JD(U) is fighting two seats in Delhi in alliance with the BJP. The BJP announced on Monday that it will spare one seat for another NDA partner — the LJP headed by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

‘Perplexed’

In his two-page letter, Varma said he was ‘perplexed’ by the tie-up , and accused the BJP of having “embarked on a massive, socially divisive agenda.”

“On more than one occasion, you have expressed your apprehensions about the BJP-RSS combine. In my first meeting with you in Patna in August 2012, even before I had resigned from the IFS, you had spoken to me at length and with conviction on why Narendra Modi and his policies are inimical for the country,” Varma said.

“When you were leading the Mahagathbandhan (a grand alliance which also had the RJD and the Congress as partners), you had openly made a call for RSS-Mukt Bharat. These views, articulated for a sustained period, are a matter of public record,” Varma wrote.

The grand alliance had trounced the BJP in the 2015 Bihar assembly polls, before disintegrating after Kumar’s abrupt exit in July 2017, when he returned to the NDA.

According to Varma, the JD(U) leader, even after aligning with the BJP again in 2017, had confessed to him ‘in private’ how it had ‘humiliated’ him.

“You mentioned on more than one occasion that the BJP was leading India into a dangerous space. It was your personal view, as conveyed to me, that the BJP is destroying institutions and that there is a need for democratic and socialist forces within the country to regroup, a task for which you actually assigned a senior party official,” Varma added, without disclosing who the JD(U) leader was.

“If these are your real views, I fail to understand how the JD(U) is extending its alliance with the BJP beyond Bihar, when even long-standing allies of the BJP like the Akali Dal have refused to do so,” he added. He wondered why the JD(U) had allied with the BJP outside Bihar when the latter had embarked on a “massive socially divisive agenda, aimed at mutilating the peace, harmony and stability of the country” through the new citizenship law, the proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens and an updated National Population Register.

Varma and JD(U) national Vice-President Prashant Kishor had come out strongly against the party’s support to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill when it was tabled in Parliament last year.

“Mahatma Gandhi, Lohia, JP the icons of our party would have, I strongly believe, unequivocally denounced this agenda and fought it tooth and nail. In view of the above, I think there is an urgent need for the JD(U) to harmonise what the party’s Constitution says, what the party’s leader feels in private, and what actions the party takes in public,” Varma wrote.

He looked forward to receiving “ideological clarity” from Kumar, he said.

The JD(U) had, till late evening, not reacted officially to Varma’s letter.

Published on January 21, 2020

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