Bihar’s ruling JD-U on Wednesday downplayed reports of any contradictions within the NDA after a video went viral in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen chanting “Vande Mataram” at an election rally but Chief Minister Nitish Kumar did not join in.
Another alliance partner, Ram Vilas Paswan, joined the “Vande Mataram” chant, but Nitish Kumar, who was next to him, stayed silent. As everyone rose to join Modi, Nitish Kumar, who is also the Janata Dal-United chief, was the last to stand up.
The video, taken at an NDA rally in Darbhanga on April 25, has raised questions but the JD-U dismissed the issue.
JD-U state president Vashsisht Narain Singh, who is considered close to Nitish Kumar, denied that there is any uneasiness between his party chief and the BJP or Modi. “There is nothing. We are busy in the ongoing polls together,” he said.
Another senior JD-U leader, who did not want to be named, also dismissed the matter. “JD-U and BJP are contesting polls together as NDA. Nitish Kumar has been sharing the dais with Modi at each election rally since last month. Besides, there is no difference as Nitish Kumar is not only praising Modi, he is seeking votes in the name of Modi.”
JD-U spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said that the party and Nitish Kumar is not against chanting “Vande Mataram” and claimed that the reports and the video being circulated were “painting a different picture, which is far from the truth”.
He, however, stressed that the JD-U is a separate party with its own agenda and ideology. “JD-U is, no doubt, a part of BJP-led NDA and running a government along with them in Bihar. But the party differs with the BJP on several issues including the Constitution’s Articles 370 and 35 A and the Citizenship Bill. JD-U also has its own stand on construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.”