Differences between Bihar's ruling alliance partners, Janata Dal (United) and the BJP, have led Nitish Kumar to pull up his socks against the ruling party in Jharkhand as the state's assembly election approaches.
With hardly any sign of seat sharing with a now recharged BJP, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar attacked the Raghubar Das government over a topic that the JDU president has used as a poll plank - his ambitious prohibition movement.
Nitish Kumar, on a day's visit to Jharkhand capital Ranchi, addressed a party workers' convention. Mr Kumar claimed that after enforcing prohibition in Bihar, people come from his state and drink liquor in Jharkhand.
"We are like brothers and I've closed down liquor shops and here they're opening. What kind of system is this and it's so dirty," Nitish Kumar mocked at the state's BJP government without taking the name of the Chief Minister.
The Jharkhand government has seen a boost in excise revenue and has now allowed the opening of more liquor shops. In the past, too, the Jharkhand government rejected all demands for complete or partial prohibition in the bordering districts with Bihar.
Sensing that the tribals might reject the idea, Nitish Kumar went a different way and said the tribals have always wanted prohibition and they should pressurise the government.
It was evident from the Bihar Chief Minister's speech that the Jharkhand government has always played spoilsport when it comes to prohibition and by his own admission Nitish Kumar accepted that people from Bihar come to Jharkhand drink alcohol.
Although on the criticism of failure of prohibition in Bihar, especially revenue losses in the state, Nitish Kumar claimed there is no loss as Bihar made up for the excise revenue losses in its first year of imposition. On the big question of alliance and the number of seats party will contest, Nitish Kumar left it to the local units to decide although BJP leaders have clarified that the alliance is only confined to Bihar.
Jharkhand elections will likely be held in November this year.
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