- In a tweet, Giriraj Singh appears to take swipe at BJP allies
- His comments add to the strain within the ruling coalition
- Last week, Nitish Kumar said JDU would not join PM Modi's government
Union Minister Giriraj Singh was rebuked today by his BJP colleague Sushil Modi as well as ally Nitish Kumar over his provocative Tweet wondering why they don't celebrate Navratri with as much verve as Iftar. Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, is already upset with the BJP after being denied more than one cabinet spot in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.
"Giriraj Singh makes such remarks deliberately, so that you (media) make news out of it," Nitish Kumar said in response to the minister's tweet.
The minister's party colleague Sushil Modi had a sharper response. "I don't know what he tweeted. Let me say, 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," remarked the Bihar Deputy Chief Minister.
In the tweet posted this morning, Giriraj Singh appeared to take a swipe at Sushil Modi as well as BJP's allies Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan, who are seen smiling 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.
कितनी खूबसूरत तस्वीर होती जब इतनी ही चाहत से नवरात्रि पे फलाहार का आयोजन करते और सुंदर सुदंर फ़ोटो आते??...अपने कर्म धर्म मे हम पिछड़ क्यों जाते और दिखावा में आगे रहते है??? pic.twitter.com/dy7s1UgBgy— Shandilya Giriraj Singh (@girirajsinghbjp) June 4, 2019
The accompanying photos also feature Mr Paswan's son Chirag Paswan and the Iftar host, Jitan Ram Manjhi of the Hindustan Awam Morcha (Secular), which was a part of the opposition coalition.
They are seen in white kurtas, a traditional cap and scarves.
Giriraj Singh, notorious for his controversial no-filter comments, is the Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries in PM Modi's new cabinet. Against most predictions, he won the national election from Begusarai in Bihar - unfamiliar territory for him - 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.
Janata Dal United spokesperson Sanjay Singh hit back at the Union Minister. "He's in the habit of making such statements and needs a mental check-up now," Sanjay Singh said.
Chirag Paswan said "everyone knows what kind of man Giriraj Singh ji is" and the party "would like to tell him that we observe all festivals, whether Navratri or Ramzan".
Last week, Nitish Kumar said his Janata Dal United would not join PM Modi's government because 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 BJP president Amit Shah about "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 the JDU and BJP leaders missing from 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.