Allies Bring More Trouble for BJP, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) Backs Paswan Ultimatum on SC/ST Act

Patna: Allies of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seem to have upped the ante against the Modi government over alleged dilution of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. After Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) has now given the government an ultimatum to either promulgate an ordinance or table an amendment bill in this regard.

Talking to News18, JD(U) national general secreatry KC Tyagi on Saturday warned BJP of losing Dalit votes in the upcoming elections if their concerns were not addressed.

He also supported LJP leader and union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s stand of joining a nation-wide stir called on August 9 by Dalit groups against the dilution of the Act.

When asked if the move could have repercussions within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Tyagi said, “If Dalits will not vote for the alliance, what will happen to NDA? The government is for the poor. Shouldn’t we be addressing their issues first?”

“Ram Vilas Paswan, Lalu ji, Sharad ji and others under the leadership of VP Singh had framed a strict law to protect the interests of Dalits. So, naturally if anyone tweaks it now will face resistance from these leaders irrespective of political affiliation,” he added.

On LJP’s demand of removing Justice AK Goel as NGT Chairman, JD(U) leader said that they do not interfere with the judiciary, but questioned the “urgency” to appoint him within 48 hours of his retirement, “knowing the fact that a section of the society was not happy”.

Justice Goel had headed the Supreme Court bench which delivered the judgment forbidding immediate arrest under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and LJP and some other parties have alleged that the judgment has “diluted” the Act.

Ram Vilas Paswan and his son, an MP from Bihar’s Jamui, Chirag Paswan had on Friday issued a deadline of August 9 to promulgate an ordinance on SC/ST Act and remove Goel as NGT chairman.

Toughening of stand by LJP and tug of war between Nitish Kumar’s party JD(U) and BJP over seat sharing, face of the NDA and communal politics has complicated relations between alliance partners. Another disgruntled ally Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader and union minister Upendra Kushwaha recently added to confusion by advising Nitish Kumar to step down and clear the way for a new leader in Bihar.

However, BJP rebuffed his suggestions as senior Party leader and deputy CM Sushil Modi tweeted, “BJP is not agreeable to any personal opinion of some NDA leaders replacing Nitish Kumar in 2020.”