Biharis under attack in Mumbai has put the BJP in a tight spot with its allies — the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar.
Party leaders from Bihar are upset that the BJP cannot openly condemn the Sena, which forced to support Raj Thackeray’s anti-Bihari campaign.
BJP’s national spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad refused to condemn the Sena, saying the trouble in Maharashtra was the political handiwork of the Congress-NCP combine to pit Raj Thackeray against Uddhav Thackeray that would divide Sena votes.
“Tough action is needed in that state against Raj’s men. But the local government is doing nothing.”
But to pacify BJP cadre as well as the JD(U), Prasad said: “We do not support anyone justifying violence against any community. We don’t agree with the Saamna (Sena mouthpiece) editorial that justifies anger of local youths against job-seeking Biharis in Maharashtra. Everyone has right to live anywhere in India.”
Though Prasad insisted that the BJP and its allies “are bound by the NDA’s agenda”, in Bihar, deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi — who is from the party — reacted sharply to Uddhav’s warning to leaders from the state not to meddle in Maharashtra's affairs. “Politicians provoking violence against north Indians should be sternly dealt with. Uddhav Thackeray’s warning should be taken seriously and suitable deterrent action should be taken against him.”
The party’s leaders at the Centre maintained that it was a difficult situation with conflicting interests. “One cannot always be able to choose politically correct friends,” said one. “The Sena had not bared its fangs during the NDA regime, as sharing power had a salutary effect,” said another.
But BJP leaders admit there’s no guarantee whether the Sena will not get into competitive politics with Raj’s party on the issue of “outsiders”.