RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Friday took a dig at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who swears by Mahatma Gandhi, asking what did the JDU chief think of the Nathuram Godse remark of Pragya Thakur, an MP of his ally BJP.
Mr Yadav, who was Nitish Kumar's deputy until the latter snapped his ties with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and returned to the BJP-led NDA two years ago, remarked sardonically that he hoped that the Bhopal MP's controversial utterances, which have drawn all-round condemnation, had given the chief minister "a pleasant feeling".
"Nitish Kumar should tell us what he thinks about the Pragya Thakur episode. I am sure his notorious conscience had a very pleasant feeling," he said in Patna.
The remark by the RJD leader, who became the leader of opposition in the Bihar Assembly upon losing the deputy chief minister's post, was made in reference to Nitish Kumar's action in the wake of a prolonged controversy over money-laundering cases lodged against the younger son of Lalu Prasad.
After the RJD had summarily rejected the suggestions that Tejashwi should resign as the deputy chief minister and wait till his name was cleared of the charges, Mr Kumar surprised all one July evening, saying his "inner voice" prevented him from being in a position of power under the prevailing circumstances, after which he went to the Raj Bhavan and tendered his resignation.
The Janata Dal (United) chief, however, was back as the chief minister the following morning, when he formed a new government with unconditional support from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Mr Yadav was talking to reporters at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) in Patna, where he had gone to meet Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha, who was admitted on account of deteriorated health following his fast unto death since Tuesday.
Interestingly, the RJD leader's visit to PMCH took place shortly after state BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand tweeted: "Upendra Kushwaha is proving his leadership abilities while Tejashwi Yadav has miserably failed to do so. A reason why the RJD leader is staying away from the RLSP chief's stir, despite being an alliance partner."
Notably, after floating the RLSP in 2013, Mr Kushwaha had started off as an NDA constituent and landed a berth in the Union council of ministers. He parted ways and crossed over to the Grand Alliance last year, when he felt that the number of seats his party was being offered by the BJP-led coalition, which had to accommodate the JD(U), was "not respectable".
The young RJD leader clarified, saying, "We were always in support of the demand being raised by Mr Kushwaha. That is the reason why our state president Jagadanand Singh visited the site where Mr Kushwaha was staging his protest until being moved to the hospital. I was away in Jharkhand for poll campaigning. Upon returning to Bihar, I have come here straightaway."
Flaying the Nitish Kumar government for not paying heed to Mr Kushwaha's demand for clearing the decks for two central schools in Bihar, approved by the Union government in 2017, he said, "This is a strange regime, malicious and butcher-like, which wants opposition leaders to die and the children to suffer in the absence of quality education.
"For the proposed school in Aurangabad, the mahant of a mutt has donated the land but the government has problems with that. It has, however, gleefully begun the work for a medical college in Samastipur, where the land has similarly been donated by the head of a religious body, as that is politically convenient."
The proposed site for the school in Aurangabad falls under the Karakat Lok Sabha seat, formerly represented by Mr Kushwaha, who lost it in the general election this year. The one at Samastipur falls under the Sarai Ranjan Assembly segment represented by Vidhan Sabha Speaker Vijay Kumar Chowdhury, a JDU leader known to be close to the chief minister.
"Nitish Kumar is no longer concerned about issues like law and order, health, education and securing a special category status or special package for Bihar. All he cares for is retaining the chief minister's post," Mr Yadav alleged.