Patna: Ruling JD(U) on Monday said it attached no importance to "prejudiced and provocative" remarks by Union minister Upendra Kushwaha against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The war of words between Janata Dal (United) and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), the two constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), indicates that the notes of discord continued to emanate from within the coalition.
The RLSP, which is headed by Kushwaha, hit back saying the JD(U) was jittery over Kumar's declining popularity and the growing appeal of Upendra Kushwaha, especially among the backwards and the Dalits.
"We do not wish to comment on a remark that is prejudiced and provocative. It is well-known that Nitish Kumar has always maintained high standards of public discourse," JD(U) state president Vashishtha Narayan Singh told reporters.
He was reacting to remarks made by Kushwaha on Sunday wherein Kumar was accused of having called the Union minister neech (lowly).
At a function organized in Patna on Saturday, the chief minister had said in response to queries about his uneasy relations - in the context of the issue of seat sharing among NDA constituents having become a thorny one, "please do not lower the level of discourse so much (bahas ka star itna neeche mat giraiye)."
Taking affront to the remark, Kushwaha in Muzaffarpur district on Sunday had said, "I have always called Nitish Kumar my elder brother but he calls me neech."
The RLSP chief also taunted his former mentor for having expressed outrage, three years ago, over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remark that Kumar's political vacillations indicated something is wrong with his DNA.
Kushwaha's remarks were also disapproved by senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey who said "the RLSP chief must give a chief minister the respect that is his due. He is himself a Union minister and should avoid indulging in a slanging match."
Maintaining that Kumar's remark was meant to belittle Kushwaha, RLSP national general secretary Madhaw Anand said in a statement "our leader has always treated Kumar with great respect but the same has never been reciprocated."
"If he holds such poor opinions about Kushwaha, why did he make the latter the leader of the Opposition in Bihar assembly and sent him to Rajya Sabha later on," Anand said.
"Consistency has never been Nitish Kumar's virtue but this time he has hurt the party and shocked the people of Bihar as well," he said.
"Kumar is worried about his own falling popularity and jittery over Kushwaha's efforts like the Halla Bol Darwaza Khol campaign which has taken the important issue of reservations in the judiciary to the masses, thereby earning him the goodwill of Dalits and OBCs," Anand claimed.
Kuswaha, a close aide of Kumar fell out with the JD(U) national president and later launched his own party RLSP on the eve of 2014 general election and became a member of the NDA.
Kushwaha, whose party won all three Lok Sabha seats it had contested in Bihar in last Parliamentary polls, was made Union Minister of State for Human Resource and Development (HRD).
The RLSP chief has been feeling uneasy within NDA after return of Kumar to the coalition in July, 2017.
The simmering hostility between the two leaders escalated after BJP chief Amit Shah in the company of Kumar announced in Delhi recently that the two parties would fight equal number of seats in Bihar in Lok Sabha 2019 election which was taken in the political circle as an indication of Kushwaha's marginalisation in the coalition.
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Updated Date: Nov 05, 2018 20:18:45 IST