Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took a swipe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday over his comments making a distinction between Hindu religion and Hindutva, asserting some people say ”unnecessary things” to stay in limelight.
He was responding to questions from journalists on the sidelines of his weekly public interaction programme ”Janata Ke Darbaar Mein Mukhyamantri”, where he also defended his government’s prohibition policy against opposition criticism following the recent death of around 50 people after consuming spurious liquor. “What should I say on this?” Kumar shot back when asked to comment on Gandhi’s remarks.
Without naming Rahul Gandhi, Kumar said, “You should ask the person who has made the statement. Some people have developed an attitude to say unnecessary things to remain in the limelight….so that the media covers them. This practice is quite prevalent in Bihar where certain people (opposition leaders) level allegations against me to hog the limelight in newspapers.” Gandhi had recently said Hindu dharma and Hindutva are ”different things” and accused the BJP and RSS of spreading hatred. The BJP shot back, claiming the Congress leadership nurses a “pathological hatred” for Hinduism. “Is Hinduism about beating a Sikh, or a Muslim. Hindutva, of course, is. In which book is it written? I have not seen it. I have read the Upanishads. I have not read it,” Gandhi had said, as he sought to draw a distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva.
Gandhi’s remarks had come in the backdrop of the controversy kicked up by a book authored by senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid. In his book ‘Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times’ Khurshid had equated the ”robust version” of Hindutva to Jihadist Islam of terror groups like ISIS and Boko Haram. Responding to questions about the recent incidents of hooch deaths, Kumar said he has called a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue of liquor ban.
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”I am once again saying that stern action will be taken against violators, including government officials,” he asserted.
He, however, insisted the crime rate in Bihar has come down after the liquor ban was imposed.
“The state government will again start the campaign to spread awareness about the ill-effects of drinking. I am not bothered about those who are criticising me for the liquor ban,” he said. The Nitish Kumar government had on April 5, 2016 banned the manufacture, trade, storage, transportation, sale and consumption of liquor in the state. Amid mounting criticism from the Opposition over deaths caused by spurious liquor, Kumar is also facing heat from his ally BJP, which has sought a review of the state’s prohibition policy.