Why Did Nitish Kumar Change Mind On Citizenship Bill? JDU Leaders Puzzled

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be taken up tomorrow in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority and needs all the support it can get to pass legislation.

Nitish Kumar had, at a party leadership meet 45 days ago, criticised the CAB, sources said

Highlights

  • Urge Nitish Kumar to reconsider support to Bill: Pavan Varma
  • Yesterday, Prashant Kishor tweeted his disapproval
  • Nitish Kumar had criticised the bill at a party meet: Sources
New Delhi:

Nitish Kumar has been called out in public by not one, but two party leaders over the Janata Dal United (JDU)'s support to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill after it was criticised at a party meeting. After Prashant Kishor, it was JDU general secretary Pavan Varma's turn to tweet his disapproval of the controversial bill and to ask the Bihar Chief Minister to rethink the party's support to it. 

"I urge Shri Nitish Kumar to reconsider support to the #CAB in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and against the unity and harmony of the country, apart from being against the secular principles of the JDU. Gandhiji would have strongly disapproved it," Pavan Varma tweeted a day after the JDU backed the bill in the Lok Sabha.

The bill will be taken up tomorrow in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority and needs all the support it can get to pass legislation.

Before Mr Varma, who is the national spokesperson of JDU, election strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishore had tweeted that he was disappointed with his party. "Disappointed to see JDU supporting #CAB that discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion. It's incongruous with the party's constitution that carries the word secular thrice on the very first page and the leadership that is supposedly guided by Gandhian ideals," the JDU vice president tweeted.

Sources say even 45 days ago, Nitish Kumar had, at a party leadership meet, criticised the CAB in detail. 

The change of heart was linked by the Chief Minister's critics to political expediency. State elections are due in Bihar next year and recently, Home Minister Amit Shah - the president of the BJP - clarified that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) alliance would contest under Nitish Kumar's leadership.

Mr Kumar had "reciprocated" by supporting the controversial citizenship bill, sources said. 

Speaking to NDTV, Pavan Varma said the Bill was "unconstitutional, discriminatory and against national interest" in the context of national unity.

"But the JD(U) has inner democracy and I have conveyed my viewpoint to Nitish Kumar personally also. And I have publicly appealed to him now," Mr Varma said.

Asked whether the party's change of stand was out of political necessity, Mr Varma reminded that his party had taken a different stand on several issues like Article 370 and instant triple talaq.

The CAB, he said, was not in consonance with the JDU's constitution and cannot be held hostage to political concerns.

Mr Varma also pointed out that the JDU and the BJP were contesting polls in neighbouring Jharkhand separately. "The party has freedom to formulate its views on issues," he said.

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