Senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwary today accused Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of giving up his commitment to secularism in order to cosy up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with whom he had shared cold vibes in the past.
The charge was, however, strongly rebutted by the ruling Janata Dal (United) in the state which accused Tiwary of "siding with protectors" of those guilty in Bhagalpur riots which had claimed hundreds of lives in the 1980s.
"Nitish Kumar used to pause, while giving a speech, whenever he heard a muezzin's call for azaan. He used to do so even when he ran his government in alliance with the BJP in the past.I was in his party then and all party workers used to follow his example in public meetings," Tiwary said.
"But yesterday we saw a fundamental change in Kumar. He was delivering a speech after inaugurating a flyover in the state capital. He did not pause even upon hearing a muezzin's call for azaan from a mosque nearby," Tiwary, RJD vice president, alleged in a statement.
"The only reason that explains this change is his necessity to ingratiate himself to Modi who has given enough signals that he has not forgotten the insults he had received from Nitish while he was the Gujarat Chief Minister," Tiwary, who was expelled from the JD(U) before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls for anti-party activities, said.
"Nitish had urged Modi, with folded hands, to grant central status to Patna University earlier this year. Modi snubbed him in full public view. It showed that Modi has not forgiven him for the cancelled dinner," Tiwari said to drive home the point.
He was referring to an incident of 2010 when Kumar had cancelled a dinner he was to host for BJP leaders who were in the Bihar capital for a party meeting.
Kumar had taken exception to an ad in newspapers showing him and Modi holding hands at a rally and making a mention of Rs five crore assistance by the Gujarat government for Kosi flood victims.
However, rubbishing Tiwary's charges, JD(U) spokesman and MLC Neeraj Kumar said "it was Kumar who, as Chief Minister, brought to justice those accused in the Bhagalpur riots. The accused were shielded by the previous RJD government in the state and by joining them, Tiwary is siding with protectors of the perpetrators".
"Kumar's secular credentials have been impeccable. He took up issues like fencing of graveyards and establishing an extension campus of Aligarh Muslim University in Kishanganj while in alliance with BJP," the JD(U) spokesman pointed out.
“In fact, Tiwary seems to be trying to win over Prasad through such baseless allegations. The RJD supremo is unlikely to repose complete trust in Tiwary who was one of the petitioners on whose PIL Patna High Court handed over fodder scam to the CBI," Neeraj Kumar added.