Serious differences between Bihar's ruling alliance partners, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United and the BJP, over an Assam-style National Register for Citizens (NRC), have gone public.
While BJP ministers in Nitish Kumar's cabinet are openly demanding an NRC or revised citizen's list to weed out "outsiders" in Bihar, their Janata Dal United colleagues reject it and call the demand politically motivated. Even Nitish Kumar has repeatedly said his party doesn't favour such an exercise.
After the NRC list for Assam was released on Saturday, the first formal reaction from the Janata Dal United came in the form of a tweet from party vice president Prashant Kishor, who said lakhs of people had become foreigners in their own country because of the botch-ups in the list.
A botched up NRC leaves lakhs of people as foreigners in their own country!- Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) September 1, 2019
Such is the price people pay when political posturing & rhetoric is misunderstood as solution for complex issues related to national security without paying attention to strategic & systemic challenges.
No official reaction came from the BJP, but the party's Rajya Sabha member Rakesh Sinha, who is considered close to the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) said infiltration was "a silent aggression" and it was "obvious in some districts of Bihar". Mr Sinha named Purnea, Katihar and Kishanganj, areas which have a strong Muslim presence. He also said there was "no need to be apologetic about the unravelling effects of demographic imbalance" which, he said, "increasingly crippled social atmosphere and secular democracy".
Mr Sinha has also started a poll on his Twitter timeline.
क्या बिहार के सीमांचल में NRCहोना चाहिए :- Prof Rakesh Sinha (@RakeshSinha01) September 4, 2019
Nitish Kumar's party, discomfited by these views, has criticized Mr Sinha's comments. But there has been no official denial or denouncement from the BJP.
Two more state ministers have jumped into the war of words.
Vinod Singh, the Minister for Welfare and a BJP leader from Katihar district, demands an NRC saying there are "over 40 lakhs infiltrators in the border districts and most of them are into crime".
His colleague and senior Janata Dal United leader Shyam Razak retorted, saying the call is driven by politics. "All those living here belong to Bihar. There is no outsider or foreigner," he said.
The coalition partners have disagreed on few issues like triple talaq and centre's decision to scrap special status to Jammu and Kashmir under article 370, over the past few months. On both occasions, Nitish Kumar's party softened its stand after sensing public sentiment.