Patna: Disgruntled JD(U) leader Pavan Varma on Tuesday demanded a "full statement" from Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on the party’s stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Population Register. This followed a strongly worded letter addressed to the party chief questioning the tie-up with the BJP in Delhi.
Talking to reporters at the airport here, Varma reiterated the need for "vaicharik spashtikaran" (ideological clarity) in the wake of the country-wide movement against the citizenship law.
“Nitish Kumar has said NRC will not be implemented in Bihar while on NPR and CAA he has acknowledged the need for further discussions. But even on these issues, I want him to come out with a full statement,” the former career diplomat, who ruffled many feathers by sharing screenshots of his two-page letter on social media, said.
"There is a need for ideological clarity as to whether, in the light of our party’s constitution, we stand with the BJP in the light of the country-wide protests. Even an old BJP ally like the Akali Dal has shied away from an alliance with it for the Delhi Assembly polls on this issue. It must, therefore, be known what impelled the JD(U) to take such a step,” Varma added.
This is the letter I have written to @NitishKumar today asking him how the JD(U) has formed an alliance with the BJP for the Delhi elections, given his own views on the BJP, and the massive national outrage against the divisive CAA-NPR-NRC scheme. pic.twitter.com/ErSynnuiYm— Pavan K. Varma (@PavanK_Varma) January 21, 2020
In the letter, Varma, the JD(U) national general secretary, questioned Nitish Kumar for aligning with the BJP beyond Bihar despite having expressed apprehensions "in private" about the BJP-RSS leading the nation into a "dangerous space".
"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.
In comments that may embarrass Kumar, Varma claimed that the JD(U) leader, even after joining hands with the BJP again in 2017, had confessed to him how the current saffron party leadership 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.
Earlier, responding to queries about Varma’s letter at the JD(U) state headquarters here, party spokesman Rajiv Ranjan Prasad termed as a "positive development" the tie-up with the BJP in Delhi, which was agreed upon by "top leaders of both parties".
This has left "no scope for unnecessary controversy though people may have their personal opinions", he added.
Bihar BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand also came out with an angry tweet addressed to Varma, saying "you should not have made the letter public and rather discussed it in the party forum.
"In a way, you are questioning the top leadership of the party, besides violating its hierarchy and discipline and going against the collective essence and ethos of NDA," he said.
Varma expressed disgust over suggestions that his dissatisfaction stemmed from not being reconsidered for the Rajya Sabha of which he was a member between 2014 and 2016.
"It is a petty thing to say. I have never asked Nitish Kumar for a Rajya Sabha berth. If a party is in the business of politics, it ought to have some ideological congruity. Why do people making such allegations not talk on issues, ideology and the party’s stance", he asked.
Varma also scoffed at suggestions that he was sore over his name not figuring in the list of JD(U) star campaigners for Delhi wherein another notable omission was Prashant Kishor, a strident critic of the CAA-NPR-NRC whose company provides parties with professional assistance during polls and has Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party as one of its clients.
"When I am not in support of the party’s tie-up with the BJP in Delhi and questioning why the alliance has been extended outside Bihar in such a delicate time, where does the question of my becoming a star campaigner arise", he asked.
He also rejected as "completely baseless" speculation that he was planning to join the Congress, saying "had I intended to do so, I would have done so long back and openly, not clandestinely.
"Please understand that I have raised issues which are very important. JD(U) is a responsible political party and not a plaything. It needs to come clean on these issues," he said.
Replying to a query, he said "if the party thinks that my letter, which has stemmed from my concern for the JD(U), warrants any type of action against me, the leadership is free to do so".
About his next course of action in the event of JD(U) leadership not responding to his concerns satisfactorily, Varma who resigned from Indian Foreign Service in 2013 and started off as culture adviser to the Chief Minister with a cabinet rank quipped "in such a scenario I will be facing you people again, to disclose my future plans".