JD(U) national secretary Pavan Varma on Thursday said that he never wanted to hurt party supremo Nitish Kumar by seeking an 'ideological clarity' from Kumar over extending alliance with the BJP beyond Bihar in Delhi for the upcoming elections, reported ANI. He also added that he will decide his future course of action based on the reply to his letter by the chief minister.
"I welcome Nitish Kumar's statement that there is space for discussion within the party, as that is what I asked for. We need to have ideological clarity before we take a further decision, especially with regards to expanding alliance with BJP. It was never my intention to hurt him," Varma said.
"I want the party to have ideological clarity. For instance, we said no to NRC (National Register of Citizens) but we are supporting the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). BJP says CAA and NRC are hyphenated that NRC will follow CAA. BJP says NRC will be implemented across the country. Therefore, JD(U) should clarify its positions on many subjects," he said.
"I am awaiting a reply to my letter, will decide the future course of action after that. Once I get a reply or don't get it, I will decide my future course of action," the JDU leader said.
Earlier on Thursday, the Bihar chief minister took umbrage at Varma for going public with reservations about the JD(U)'s support to CAA and the party's tie-up with BJP for Delhi Assembly polls. He made it clear that the "scholarly" diplomat-turned-politician was "free to go wherever he likes".
Kumar's blunt remarks came two days after Varma, a former Rajya Sabha member, sent him a two-page letter on the issue and shared screenshots of the same on his official twitter handle and Facebook profile despite it containing details of conversations the two were claimed to have had "in private".
Varma, who had sought "ideological clarity" from the JD(U)s national president, had arrived in Patna on a private visit during which he could not meet the chief minister but demanded from him "a full statement" on CAA-NPR-NRC in view of the country-wide movement against the same.
Kumar made the comment when media persons approached him at the historic Gandhi Maidan, where he had come to attend a function organized on the occasion of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's birth anniversary.
"He (Varma) is a scholarly person for whom I have enormous, personal respect. But the types of statements he has been giving.. it has left me flabbergasted," he said. "There should be no confusion on the stand taken by the Janata Dal (United) on issues. Our stand is always very clear. But if he had any reservations, he could have expressed the same in a party forum. And the reference to conversations made in private! Would I ever go public with what he has said to me in private", Kumar said with obvious displeasure.
"Nonetheless, I have lots of respect for him. He can go wherever he likes", Kumar said with a smile on his lips.
This is the first time that the Bihar chief minister has chosen to speak about voices of dissent emerging from his party in the wake of the JD(U)s decision to support the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament in the winter session, less than a year after having opposed the same.
Besides Varma, poll strategist-turned-JD(U) vice president Prashant Kishor has also been venting his displeasure over the party's stand on the contentious law. Varma, in his letter, had written in detail about the views claimed to have been expressed by Kumar during their "private" conversations about "divisive" agenda of BJP, the leadership of Narendra Modi, who had become a polarizing figure in the wake of post-Godhra riots and reminded him of his past efforts at making an "RSS mukt bharat".
Varma also wrote about Kumar having complained that "the current leadership in the BJP has humiliated him and expressed a "personal" view that there was the need for "democratic and socialist forces" to "regroup" against the saffron party and also about having "actually assigned a senior party official" the task.
Varma, who had resigned from the Indian Foreign Service in 2013 to take over as the chief minister's culture adviser and got elected to the Rajya Sabha for a two-year period in 2014, had questioned the party's decision to take its alliance with the BJP beyond Bihar by contesting the Delhi Assembly polls in alliance.
He had cited the example of the Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the BJPs oldest allies, which has declined to contest elections in the national capital despite a sizeable population of Sikhs following differences with the saffron party over non-inclusion of Muslims in the CAA.
Notably, the Akali Dal is a part of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, which the JD(U) is not. "Before publicly speaking, I spoke to Nitish Kumar that the party support to CAA is wrong. When my advice was not taken into cognizance and the party supported the CAA in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, then I wrote a letter publicly," Varma said.
With inputs from PTI