BJP asks leaders to exercise restraint

A day after it questioned JD(U) leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar over his earlier silence on 2002 Gujarat riots and continuing as the railway minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led government, the BJP on Tuesday instructed its spokespersons to show restraint and avoid escalating further the war-of-words between the two allies by making any adverse comments against JD-U leaders. The two allies are considered on the brink of parting ways ever since Mr Kumar raised the “secular” prime ministerial candidate pitch, amid growing chorus within the BJP for projecting Gujarat CM Narendra Modi for the post. However, the JD(U) hit back at the BJP for questioning Mr Kumar over his earlier silence over the Godhra issue and even dared its ally to snap ties.
Hitting back at the BJP, Mr Nitish Kumar on Tuesday appeared to attack Gujarat CM, saying maintenance of law and order was the state government’s responsibility. His response came after RJD chief Lalu Prasad also asked if Mr Kumar was genuinely opposed to Mr Modi why did he not quit as the railway minister from the NDA government.
After JD(U) set the deadline for the BJP to announce its PM candidate, insisting the candidate should have secular credentials virtually vetoing Mr Modi, the BJP had attacked Mr Kumar on Monday by saying he was “nobody” to give a certificate on secularism to his Gujarat counterpart, who is often blamed for the post-Godhra riots.
BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain, who was in Kolkata, tried to play down queries over ongoing spat with JD(U) and future of the alliance, claiming there was no threat to the alliance in Bihar and there was no immediate dispute between the two.
When asked to comment on Mr Kumar’s remarks that his job as the then railway minister was to look after safety issues and not with the law and order of the state, Mr Hussain said Mr Kumar was reacting to statements made by the RJD chief.
“This has been widely debated in the Parliament and media and BJP will not say anything more,” Mr Hussain said.
Meanwhile, daring BJP to withdraw support to it in Bihar, JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari in Patna said it had not stopped the saffron party on its support to them as it was free to take a decision. He, however, said “nobody will be happy if the alliance breaks down after 17 years of journey together.”

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