It was a Wednesday that Bihar's ruling coalition partners would like to forget.
Reports of a circular from the Special Branch of the police seeking information about the RSS and 19 affiliates caused a sensation. The RSS, or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, is the ideological mentor of Nitish Kumar's partner BJP.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has headed the Special Branch for 14 years. Damage control was also left to him.
Senior BJP leaders in the government did not comment officially but didn't hide their displeasure from Nitish Kumar.
The BJP's Sanjay Mayukh, who raised it in the Bihar Legislative Council, is known to be close to Amit Shah, the BJP president and Union Home Minister.
But even before Mr Mayukh demanded an inquiry, Nitish Kumar was on the job, summoning top police officers.
Sources say most officers said they were unaware - or claimed so - of the circular to gather details on RSS and its affiliates.
The Special Branch, which is the intelligence wing of the police and briefs the Chief Minister on various sensitive issues write seeking the details "within a week". The letter, dated May 28, upset the BJP.
Nitish Kumar, who has in the past taken the line of "RSS-Mukt (RSS-free) Bharat", was reportedly embarrassed at the reports.
He instructed senior Special Branch officer Jitendra Singh Gangavar to talk to the media and explain. Mr Gangavar, on one hand said information "may have been sought" because of a security threat flagged by intelligence inputs. He, too, said he was unaware of what happened and that he had asked for an explanation. But by blaming it on an officer, he ended up doing more damage than containing it, sources say.
Throughout his damage control ops, Nitish Kumar kept top BJP leaders posted as he knew that when it came to the RSS, there was very little wiggle room.
Many say the Chief Minister should have been more careful. "If you have to run a coalition government, collecting information about each other should be the last thing on your agenda. Besides, for the BJP, the RSS is non-negotiable," said a BJP leader.
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