Pawan Verma ‘questions’ Nitish Kumar on ties with BJP

The JD(U) is fighting two seats in Delhi that of Burari and Sangam Vihar.

New Delhi/Patna: Long-brewing differences within the JD(U) over being in the NDA and supporting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Parliament came out in the open on Tuesday with senior leader Pavan K. Varma raising questions on the party’s alliance with BJP for the Delhi Assembly polls despite differences over the twin issues of CAA and NRC.

Varma’s letter came a day after the JD(U) dropped him and vice-president Prashant Kishor from the list of campaigners for the Delhi Assembly polls. The 20-strong list includes the names of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, party spokesperson K.C. Tyagi and other leaders such as R.C.P. Singh and Vashishtha Narayan Singh.

The JD(U) is fighting two seats in Delhi that of Burari and Sangam Vihar.

In the open letter, Varma sought “ideological clarity” on the issue of CAA and NRC.

He said that he failed to understand how the party has formed an alliance for the Delhi elections, given his (Nitish Kumar) own views on the BJP and the massive national outrage against the divisive CAA-NPR-NRC scheme.

“I fail to understand how the JD(U) is extending its alliance with the BJP beyond Bihar when even long-standing allies like Akali Dal have refused to do so. This is especially so when the BJP through the CAA-NPR-NRC combine has embarked on a massive social divisive agenda aimed at mutilating the peace and harmony and stability of the country,” he said in the letter.

“It was your personal views 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,” he further said.

Earlier, Kishor had come out strongly against the CAA/NRC following which Kumar had said that there could be another debate in the state Assembly if needed on CAA and that Bihar would not implement the NRC.
On whether the state would implement the NPR, which many see as the basis for a future NRC, JD(U) spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said in Delhi that “we want a separate caste census along with the NPR”.

He also said that the government should begin a dialogue with those protesting against CAA.

After the letter was released by Verma on Twitter, both BJP and JD(U) leaders in Patna reacted strongly against him.

Talking to this newspaper BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said, “The seat-sharing between NDA partners for Delhi election shows the rapport among the top leaders of NDA allies. He should not have written a letter and rather discussed it on party forum. In a way, he has raised a question on the top leadership of JD(U) which is against the discipline of party hierarchy as well as the collective essence and ethos of NDA.”

Sources in the JD(U) told this newspaper that Varma’s open questioning of the Chief Minister indicates that he might be contemplating leaving the party.

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