- "It shouldn't happen again," Amit Shah is said to have told Giriraj Singh
- Mr Singh had targeted Sushil Modi, Nitish Kumar for attending Iftar party
- Sushil Modi said he is a proud Hindu and takes part in Holi programs too
Union Minister Giriraj Singh has been reprimanded by Home Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah over a tweet targeting his colleague Sushil Modi and ally Nitish Kumar for attending an Iftar party. Amit Shah dialed the minister and reportedly asked him to avoid such statements. It should not happen again, he is believed to have told Giriraj Singh, a repeat offender when it comes to divisive comments.
In the tweet, Giriraj Singh took a swipe at BJP leaders and allies seen 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," Mr Singh wrote in Hindi.
The accompanying photos featured Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his Deputy Sushil Modi of the BJP, another ally Ram Vilas Paswan, his son Chirag Paswan and the Iftar host, Jitan Ram Manjhi of the Hindustan Awam Morcha (Secular), which was a part of the opposition coalition.
"Giriraj Singh makes such remarks deliberately, so that you (media) make news out of it," Nitish Kumar responded hours later. He is already upset with the BJP over cabinet spots in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.
The minister's party colleague Sushil Modi had a sharper response: "I am proud to be a Hindu. I take part in Holi programs too, not just Iftar. I have been a part of Iftar celebrations for 25 years. People who never hosted a Holi Milan party are raising questions today."
Giriraj Singh, notorious for his no-filter comments, won the national election from Begusarai in Bihar with a four lakh plus margin of victory over someone many saw as a strong rival, Kanhaiya Kumar.
Often seen to wear his rightwing beliefs on his sleeve, Giriraj Singh is prone to order critics of the BJP to "go to Pakistan".
His comments add to the strain within the ruling coalition after a dispute over cabinet berths.
Last week, Nitish Kumar said his Janata Dal United would not join PM Modi's government because only 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 Amit Shah on "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 JDU and BJP leaders skipping 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.