Bihar: JD(U)’s efforts to woo the Muslims has run into rough weather

JD(U)’s efforts to woo Muslims appears to have run into rough weather as the minority cell of the party is being pulled in two different directions by the leaders, Prashant Kishor and RS MP RCP Singh

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Soroor Ahmed

The Janata Dal (United)’s efforts to woo Muslims appears to have run into rough weather as the minority cell of the party is being pulled in two different directions by two leaders––both said to be dear to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. One is recently appointed vice president of the party Prashant Kishor and the other former bureaucrat and Rajya Sabha MP RCP Singh.

Nothing exemplifies this better than the flop-show at the party’s Patna district minority cell meeting at Shri Krishna Memorial Hall on November 22. Against the venue’s capacity of 4,500 hardly 500 to 600 attended it. There were few takers of 600 kilo of mutton biryani and 5000 packets of lassi compelling Bihar’s sugarcane and minority affairs minister Khurshid Alam to concede during the speech that he was seriously embarrassed (sharamshaar) by the turnout. The show was organised by Singh and all the party leaders belonging to the community were assigned the task of bringing a large number of people.

Commenting on the thin attendance, Anwar-ul-Hoda, the general secretary of the Bihar unit of the Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat said: “The poor show has not only exposed the organizational weakness of the Janata Dal (United), which even failed to attract its workers, but is also a commentary on how much community now trusts Nitish Kumar after his last year’s return to the NDA fold.”

Shahbaz Khan, who like Anwar-ul-Hoda, also attended the meeting sounded more forthright and said that show was a warning to Nitish Kumar, who was not present on the occasion.

However, a party insider said that the chief minister chose to skip the occasion and left everything at the hand of RCP Singh. But had the turnout been better he might have changed his plan and attended it.

Whatever be the reason behind Nitish’s absence there is no denying the fact that the tussle between Kishor and Singh had its negative impact on the November 22 conference of the party’s minority cell. It needs to be mentioned here that Khurshid Alam made his displeasure known at the function when he raised objections over the sitting arrangement made at the dias. He was upset over the way he was sidelined though he left no stone unturned to make it a success.

Sources close to the Janata Dal (United) told this correspondent that several minority leaders too are not very pleased with the way Singh handled the show.

Kishor, a new entry, is very much there to exploit the situation. He is Nitish’s ‘Man Friday’. If one party source is to be believed then the fact is that Nitish Kumar has left the entire party organisation at the hand of Kishor. “Nitishji ka kaam sirf fita kaatna hai,” (Nitish Kumar’s work is only to cut ribbon or inaugurate functions.),” he told this correspondent.

It is this sudden proximity between Nitish and Kishor which is causing a lot of heartburn within the party and even in its minority and other cells

Incidentally, Kishor’s bungalow is just beside Nitish’s and they remain in constant touch with each other. Be it discussing anything or sorting out any crisis, Kishor has direct access to CM’s bungalow.

Once Kishor kept some visitors waiting for almost two hours as he was busy bringing peace between two quarrelling groups of workers at his bungalow. In between Kishor reportedly went to Nitish’s bungalow for consultation.

It is this sudden proximity between Nitish and Kishor which is causing a lot of heartburn within the party and even in its minority and other cells. A party insider said that it is difficult to say as to what would come out of this tension within.

Anyway, Kishor is busy meeting Muslim leaders and professionals. On Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s birthday on November 11, he had one such meeting with some Muslims. This included Khalid Anwar, who was made MLC by Nitish on April 15 just after massive Deen Bachao Desh Bachao rally organised by Wali Rahmani in Patna.

Party insiders now confirm that all out efforts are being made to attract Rahmani, a former Congress leader and ex deputy chairman of the Bihar Legislative Council. Another in the list is Dr Ejaz Ali, former Rajya Sabha MP of JD(U), who was thrown out of the party when he invited former Union minister Jaswant Singh to Patna to release his book.

But since another former Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar, along with Sharad Yadav, had been expelled from the party the way is clear for Dr Ali. Both of them come from two different backward castes of Muslims.

But what is surprising is the way Kishor is telling Muslims who are being invited. One of them told this correspondent that Kishor told them to forget about 2019 and concentrate focus on 2020. “We are sincere in fulfilling all the demands of the Muslims,” he reportedly told a delegation, which was invited for discussion.

But what amused those who went to Kishor was the way he commented on the state of affairs within the party and indirectly criticised RCP Singh. He sounded critical on the manner in which Khalid Anwar was inducted as MLC as it yielded nothing and in return “angered the Muslims.”

Commenting on return to the NDA fold he reportedly told the delegation that a mistake had been committed and now efforts are being made to rectify it.

“Anyway we have have already cut five seats of the BJP by compelling it to fight on 17, that is the same number as Janata Dal (United).”

Here it needs to be mentioned that BJP had last time won 22 seats in Bihar.

If there were only few takers of biryani and lassi on November 22, something else is certainly cooking up within the Janata Dal (United).

There is no dearth of people within the Muslim community who are of the view that all these utterances by Kishor of the party’s previous policy are being made only for public consumption to take the community leaders for a ride.

“Muslims are not going to be fooled by the doublespeak of either Kishor or Nitish Kumar. After all everyone knows that till sometime back Kishor loved to be called as the architect of Narendra Modi’s victory in 2014,” commented Shams Khan, a young social activist.

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