Days after Pavan Varma questioned JD(U)'s tie-up with the BJP for Delhi assembly elections and threatened to quit the party, Bihar Chief Minister hit out at him saying he is free to do so. Expressing "surprise" over Varma's "public" remarks, Kumar said he can "join any party he likes."
"He is a learned man for whom I have a lot of respect even if he may not have similar sentiments for me. But is it proper to share such things in public and not on a party forum? What if I start sharing what he said to me in public?" Kumar said. Responding to Varma's repeated demands for "ideological clarity", Kumar said, "The JD(U)s stand is very clear...he is free to go wherever he likes".
Varma said he will decide his next course of action depending on the reply from party president Nitish Kumar to his letter and asserted that he will continue to speak "what he believes is for the good of the country and the party".
"I have not received a reply. Depending on the reply from the party president or its absence I will decide on my course of action. I will continue to speak what I believe is right, what is for the good of the country and the party," the former Rajya Sabha member said.
The two leaders differed over the party’s decision to vote in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament, and to support the NPR exercise in Bihar.
#WATCH Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on JDU leader Pawan Verma's letter to him on CAA&NRC: If anyone has any issues then the person can discuss it within party or at party meetings, but such kind of public statements are surprising. He can go and join any party he likes, my best wishes. pic.twitter.com/qFXgVSWfKu
— ANI (@ANI) January 23, 2020
Earlier this week, JD(U) national spokesperson Pavan K Varma wrote a letter to the chief minister asking him for “ideological clarity” over the party's alliance with the BJP in Delhi. Adding that he was “deeply perplexed” by the party’s decision, Varma said Nitish had, “on more than one occasion” expressed “grave apprehensions” in private about the BJP leading the country into a “dangerous space”.
Varma also shared screenshots of the letter on social media, accusing the BJP of having “embarked on a massive, socially divisive agenda”. Recalling his first meeting with Nitish in August 2012, Varma said: “You had spoken to me at length and with conviction on why Narendra Modi and his policies are inimical for the country. When you were leading Mahagathbandhan, you had openly made a call for ‘RSS-mukt Bharat’.”
“The cause for confusion arises from the fact that, even after you changed tracks and aligned again with the BJP in 2017, your private apprehensions regarding the BJP did not change...“f these are your real views, I fail to understand how the JD(U) is now extending its alliance with the BJP beyond Bihar, when even longstanding allies of the BJP, like the Akali Dal, have refused to do so. This is especially so at time when the BJP, through the CAA-NPR-NRC combine, has embarked on a massive socially divisive agenda, aimed at mutilating the peace, harmony and stability of the country. Mahatma Gandhi, (Ram Manohar) Lohia and JP (Jayaprakash Narayan) — the icons of our party — would have, I strongly believe, unequivocally renounced this agenda and fought tooth and nail,” Varma said in his letter.
This is the letter I have written to @NitishKumar today asking him how the JD(U) has formed an alliance with the BJP for the Delhi elections, given his own views on the BJP, and the massive national outrage against the divisive CAA-NPR-NRC scheme. pic.twitter.com/ErSynnuiYm
— Pavan K. Varma (@PavanK_Varma) January 21, 2020
Talking to The Indian Express, Varma had hinted at quitting the party soon. “I will take a decision in the next few days. It has become difficult for me to stay in the party," he then said.
This is not the first time that Varma had written an open letter to Nitish on CAA-NRC. Earlier in January, he had asked his party chief to reject the “divisive CAA-NPR-NRC scheme”, describing the move as a “nefarious agenda to divide India and create a great deal of unnecessary social turbulence”. JD(U) vice-president Prashant Kishor has also been critical of the citizenship law