- Nitish Kumar government has been under attack over Bhagalpur violence
- Nitish Kumar's party is treating this criticism as a badge of honour
- BJP leaders have demanded high-level inquiry into police crackdown
His government's handling of the violence came in for another attack on Friday.
But Nitish Kumar's party Janata Dal United is treating this criticism as a badge of honour.
Because it comes from his ally, the BJP, which was widely perceived to have influenced Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's handling of the communal violence that first broke out a little over a fortnight back.
BJP leaders on Friday sent a representation to the state's police chief KS Dwivedi, pitching for a high-level inquiry into the administration's crackdown on people suspected involved in the violence.
That complaint is seen as a compliment by Janata Dal United leaders.
"It is another bit of evidence to demonstrate," a senior JDU leader told NDTV, "that the state government had, contrary to the propaganda by the opposition parties, acted swiftly and fairly... that the chief minister had delivered on his public commitment to uphold the rule of law irrespective of who the culprits are".
It is a message that the state government has been trying to send ever since the communal violence broke out. As in Bhagalpur, the police accused local BJP leaders of a role, filed cases against them and even arrested them.
But much of this message that Nitish Kumar had hoped to affirm got lost in the din over the less than enthusiastic approach of the administration to arrest the BJP leader from Bhagalpur Arijit Shashwat, 36. The BJP leader was finally arrested after the court, hearing the state's strong opposition, rejected his anticipatory bail plea.
The violence spread over the next few days to some other districts and even reached Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's home district of Nalanda.
It was widely seen to have chipped at his formidable reputation as someone who had firm grip on the administration and had even prompted Lalu Yadav to prophesize that "Nitish Kumar's was finished". Mr Kumar has been hard at work over the past few days to reclaim some of the goodwill that he had lost.
He has gone public to declare that he was as committed to fighting communalism as he had been to take on corruption, a reference to his walking out of the grand alliance comprising Lalu Yadav's party and the Congress over bribery charges against Tejashwi Yadav.
More than the people, this was seen as a message to BJP leaders that he would not compromise with communalism.
On Friday, around the same time that the BJP leaders were cribbing about him, Mr Kumar got the bureaucracy to release Rs 36 lakh compensation for those affected by the violence during last month's Ram Navami celebrations.
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