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Please define secularism, Mr Nitish Kumar

By Sharique N Siddiquie | Last Updated: Saturday, June 26, 2010 - 17:14
Sharique N Siddiquie
Common Man

I have always admired the current Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his grit, determination, political will, honesty and pro-development image.

When he assumed office for the first time in 2000, after the fall of the Rabri Devi government, I was among the numerous Biharis, who breathed a sigh of relief, hoping to escape the ‘misgovernance’ of Rashtriya Janata Dal. Though he resigned within seven days, it became imminent that sooner or later, Nitish Kumar would definitely take over the reigns of Bihar.

But the wait stretched for too long, as RJD continued to rule for the next 5 years. It was in November 2005, that Nitish led the NDA coalition to victory in the state. His triumph was deemed historical because it put an end to the 15 years of marathon mismanagement of Bihar by Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The state since then has witnessed a paradigm shift as far as governance is concerned. Bihar is no longer completely deprived of basic amenities like roads and water. The situation in other fields like education has also improved dramatically. I have no doubt that Nitish Kumar government in Bihar is among the best in the country.

It has been 5 years since the ‘revolution’ and Bihar is fast approaching assembly elections. For this reasons, the state has begun witnessing all sorts of drama, especially within the ruling coalition.

First, Nitish vehemently supported the Women’s Reservation Bill despite opposition from his long term ally and party leader Sharad Yadav, which was broadly seen as a friendship offer to the Congress.

Then, he reportedly objected to a poster published by BJP in which he was shown holding hands with Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, the man who is infamous for his communal agenda and widely considered the perpetrator of post-Godhara riots.

So infuriated was our ‘secular’ Nitish that not only did he return the aid given by Gujarat for Kosi flood victims, but asked for a ban on Modi and Varun Gandhi campaigning in Bihar, clearly upsetting the BJP.

The spat over the issue is still on and chinks in the BJP-JD(U) combine are clearly becoming visible. But the entire episode has confounded common people like me.

I would like to ask a very basic question to Mr Nitish Kumar, “Dear Sir, for the sake of democracy, please define secularism as you see it.”

I just don’t understand the politics wherein, the JD(U) is in an alliance with the BJP, yet the CM is trying to ignore the saffron party’s top rank leaders. I mean, he first allies with a party which proudly flaunts its communal agenda, and then tries to portray a secular image. Isn’t it an example of ‘selective secularism’? I wonder!

It is high time for the CM to make clear to the people of Bihar, who are perplexed, as to what the true ideology of JD(U) is.

There is one more thing that I failed to understand. What was the need to return the flood relief given by Gujarat to the people of Bihar?

I can understand Nitish’s political unwillingness to share the dais with Narendra Modi, but the money belonged to the people of Gujarat. Narendra Modi just happens to be the Chief Minister of the state. It was not his personal money.

But such is life and politics in India, where the image matters more than work. This is precisely the reason why I don’t blame Mr Nitish Kumar for creating this unnecessary hoopla over a mere photograph.

I know Bihar needs a Chief Minister like him, but I guess it is high time he makes his affiliations clear. You can’t be a secular and a communal at the same time.

Honesty is often the harder option, but may be better appreciated by the people than the CM thinks!

First Published: Saturday, June 26, 2010 - 17:14

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