Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar today said no political statement should be made by anyone on the February 14 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama or the subsequent aerial strike at Pakistan's Balakot. The explicit disapproval of the Chief Minister, who is also a BJP ally, comes amid a huge political controversy over the air strike and its possible impact. Both the Opposition and the BJP have accused each other of politicising the issue ahead of the coming national elections.
"There should not be any statement and one should understand the feelings prevailing in the country. This is not a political issue and it concerns the unity and integrity of the country. Where the people of the country are united, there should not be any political statement on this issue," the Chief Minister said at a function in Patna this morning.
"Whatever our armed forces have done, the respect for them has gone up," the Chief Minister added. The function was also attended by Mr Kumar's deputy, the BJP's Sushil Modi. But neither he, nor the BJP leaders present on the occasion made any comment.
Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP's leaders and ministers have been taking on the opposition over the issue at every possible opportunity.
The BJP is even building a fresh campaign built around nationalism and national security. The lyrics of its new campaign song, penned by Prasoon Joshi, will incorporate the air strikes, the sources have said yesterday.
In this backdrop, the Chief Minister's words are seen as not just dissociation from the BJP, but also an assertion of independence.
Mr Kumar has also dissociated himself from the other key project of the BJP, the proposed Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Last year, he said the temple was a part of the BJP's agenda but not the NDA's. He had also said his party would prefer to go by the Supreme Court's decision on the matter.
The opposition has accused the BJP of using the air strike to score political points and drum up support. Its allegations have been fueled by the moves of moves of BJP leaders like BS Yeddyurappa and Manoj Tiwari.
Mr Yeddyurappa -- a former Chief Minister and key leader of the BJP in Karnataka-- was heard speculating on the number of seats the party might win after the air strikes. He later said he had been quoted out of context.
Senior BJP leader Manoj Tiwari was seen wearing an army jacket to a political rally. He said he was proud to wear the colours of the army.