Free To Leave: Nitish Kumar Dares Party Colleague Pavan Varma In Fight Over CAA

CAA act: Pavan Varma had tweeted a letter to Nitish Kumar on Tuesday saying "deeply perplexed" by the JDU's alliance with the BJP for the February Delhi election.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar suggested that Pavan Varma was free to quit the party.

Highlights

  • Pavan Varma had called out Nitish Kumar over his stand on CAA
  • He also confronted Nitish Kumar over alliance with BJP for Delhi polls
  • "Such public statements surprising. Is this a way to talk?": Nitish Kumar
Patna:

Nitish Kumar has delivered a knock-out snub to close aide Pavan Varma, who had publicly called him out on his stand on ally BJP and the decision to partner with it for the Delhi election amid nationwide protests against the citizenship law CAA. "He is free to go and join any party he likes, my best wishes," the Bihar Chief Minister declared to the media today.

Pavan Varma, a former Rajya Sabha member and national general secretary of JDU, had tweeted a letter to Nitish Kumar on Tuesday saying he was "deeply perplexed" by the alliance with the BJP for the February Delhi election. He referred to private conversations in which the Chief Minister had expressed "grave apprehensions" about the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

"Our stand is clear, no confusion. If anyone has any issues, then the person can discuss it within party or at party meetings, but to give such public statements is surprising. Is this a way to talk?" said a furious Nitish Kumar, making it amply clear that his word prevails in the party and also telegraphing to the BJP that these statements do not represent the party line.

"(Leaving) is an option that everyone has and I know it," responded Mr Varma, adding that he welcomed the chief minister's statement that there is space for discussion within the party. "It was never my intention to hurt him," he said, adding that he would decide what to do after a reply to his letter.

In his letter, Mr Varma had challenged his party chief to "harmonise" what he felt in private and what the JDU did in public.

"On more than one occasion, you have expressed your grave apprehensions about the BJP-RSS combine. If these are your real views, I fail to understand how the JDU is now extending its alliance with the BJP beyond Bihar, when even long standing allies of the BJP, like the Akali Dal, have refused to do so. This is especially so at a time when the BJP, through the CAA-NPR-NRC combine, has embarked on a massive social divisive agenda aimed at mutilating the peace, harmony and stability of the country," Mr Varma wrote.

Mr Varma reminded Mr Kumar that in their first meeting in 2012, "you had spoken to me at length and with conviction on why Narendra Modi and his policies are inimical for the country." He also referred to Mr Kumar's call for an "RSS-mukt Bharat (RSS-free India)".

Mr Varma claimed that the Chief Minister - who revived his ties with the BJP after dumping Lalu Yadav and Congress in 2017 - had "confessed" to him in private about the current BJP leadership humiliating him.

The critique has not been taken well.

Sources say Mr Kumar's blunt putdown is also a message for other leaders like Prashant Kishor who have questioned him on his stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, which the JDU had backed in parliament even after Mr Kumar criticized it within the party.

The citizenship law, which makes religion a criterion for Indian citizenship, says non-Muslim minorities from Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can become citizens easily if they fled religious persecution and entered India before 2015. Critics believe the CAA, along with the NRC or National Register Of Citizens, will be used to target Muslims.

Mr Kumar recently ruled out the NRC in his state.

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