Angry Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members on Wednesday created ruckus in the Bihar assembly after a senior minister in the ruling Nitish Kumar government was caught on camera asking the crowd to beat the photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with shoes at a public function.
The minister in question, Abdul Jalil Mastan, who holds excise portfolio had reportedly made these remarks at a Congress rally held last week in Purnia district to protest against the Centre’s demonetisation drive. The angry protests forced adjournments of both the Houses of the state legislature.
As the House assembled for the day on Wednesday, the opposition leader Prem Kumar raised the issue in the state assembly asking the Chair how the minister had termed the PM as “dacoit and naxali” and then asked the crowd to beat the PM’s photograph with shoes. Even as he demanded dismissal of the minister, his colleagues rushed into the well, shouted slogans and upturned the reporter’s table, throwing out papers. The unruly scenes led to the adjournments of the House.
The protesting members refused to relent even though the chief minister denounced the conduct of his cabinet colleagues and then the minister himself apologized for his conduct. “I say sorry if my statements have hurt the sentiments of anybody,” said Mr Mastan.
But this apology refused to calm down the tense situation in the House. “Mastan asked the people to beat the photograph of the Prime Minister with shoes after which the crowd did that. Such a person doesn’t deserve to be a minister. He should be immediately sacked. We will not settle less than his dismissal,” declared senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, talking to newsmen in the assembly premises today. He said the BJP wouldn’t tolerate such misconduct on the part of the minister.
Mr Modi who served as a deputy chief minister in the previous NDA government said one can have ideological differences but the Constitution surely does not allow anyone to humiliate the Prime Minister of a country. “If the chief minister has any morality left in him, he should immediately dismiss the minister from his cabinet,” Mr Modi demanded. The chief minister himself condemned the action of his colleague, terming it “indecent”.
Strangely, the developments came on a day when the Prime Minister called up the Bihar chief minister and wished him on his 66th birthday. The PM turned to twitter to make this revelation. “Spoke to Shri @NitishKumar & wished him on his birthday. May he be blessed long life filled with good health,” the PM tweeted.
The minister Mr Mastan earned the ire of the opposition soon after the video clip of his inflammatory speech went viral in the media. In the video, the minister is heard using uncharitable words against the PM and then asking the crowd gathered at his party rally to hit his photograph with shoes. Subsequently, the crowd is seen hitting the photograph of the PM placed on a chair on the dais with shoes.
minister was also heard saying in the video that it was the PM who had said he was prepared to face the punishment if he failed to end people’s woes within 50 days of demonetization. However, the move has sparked protests in Bihar, and according to experts it holds the potential to communalise the ongoing assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Apparently with eyes on the UP polls, the BJP leaders are now trying hard to turn it into a major issue.