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‘They create social hatred and division’ — JD(U) defies ally BJP on anti-conversion laws

JD(U) resolution passed ‘unanimously’ at a national executive meeting of the party, held two days after six of its MLAs joined BJP in Arunachal Pradesh.

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Patna: BJP ally Janata Dal (United) Sunday passed a resolution against the anti-conversion laws that have been passed by governments in states led by its alliance partner. 

The resolution was passed at a meeting of the party’s national executive in Patna. 

“The laws create social hatred and division within society. It is in our Constitution that any adult male and female can marry with consent provided that there is no deception,” said JD(U) spokesperson K.C. Tyagi as he briefed the media about the meeting. “The party is against laws being passed on the issue.” 

While the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh passed an ordinance against unlawful conversion in November, that in Madhya Pradesh has cleared a bill in this regard, to be tabled in the assembly Monday.

The laws follow statements made by several BJP leaders about what they describe as “love jihad”, or an alleged trend where Muslim men lure Hindu women to convert under the garb of love.

Ever since the days of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Tyagi said, “the socialists have upheld the right of adults to marry irrespective of caste and creed”. 

The national executive meeting of the JD(U) was held two days after six MLAs of the party joined the BJP in Arunachal Pradesh, leaving the JD(U) with just one legislator in the 60-member assembly. The defection was termed by the JD(U) a “violation of alliance dharma”.

Speaking to ThePrint, a JD(U) member said the resolution came as a surprise to them.

“We were aware that a resolution on Arunachal Pradesh would be passed but we did not have a whiff of this resolution until Nitish Kumar read it out. It was passed unanimously,” added the JD(U) MLC, who was present at the meeting. 

The Bihar BJP played down the resolution. “We have different approaches to many issues. What runs the government are the common programmes. A ‘love jihad’ law was not in the agenda of the party and no major BJP leader has demanded it,” said BJP spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel. 

Even Tyagi praised the NDA’s Bihar alliance model. “Despite having been together for almost 15 years, there is no contradiction between BJP and JD(U) ministers in governance,” he said.

Also Read: VHP asks Kejriwal to bring anti-conversion law, says people from UP ‘seeking refuge’ in Delhi

‘A message for BJP’

According to JD(U) insiders, there have been apprehensions in the party that members of the Bihar BJP — now the dominant partner in the alliance — may pressure them for a similar law in the state. Just earlier this month, the local RSS unit demanded that the state bring a law similar to the one introduced by UP CM Yogi Adityannath. 

“After the assembly polls, in which BJP emerged as the major partner, we have been accused of going soft on our stands under BJP pressure,” said a senior JD(U) leader. “This resolution makes it clear that we will not buckle under BJP pressure on the issue.”

Another JD(U) leader said that, with the anti-conversion law, Nitish has reasserted the benchmark for the extent he can go to accommodate the BJP in a government that is backed by 74 BJP MLAs against 43 of his own party. 

“The message is clear that Nitish Kumar will not go along with the communal agenda of the BJP, however politically weakened he may be,” said the JD(U) leader.

Since the JD(U) returned to the NDA fold in 2017, it has seen its support among Muslims wane. In the 2020 assembly polls, none of the 11 Muslim candidates fielded by the JD(U) won. The current government doesn’t have even one Muslim minister. 

While some observers say polarisation by the BJP benefited the JD(U) in certain pockets in the election this year, including in Mithilanchal, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has often been quoted as saying that he will not tolerate “3Cs — communalisation, corruption and criminalisation”. 

Last year, the JD(U) got the BJP to vote in support of a resolution against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the Bihar assembly. 

Nitish has also sought to woo Muslims through welfare schemes, like scholarship for Muslim students and making boundary walls around graveyards.

Also Read: Shivraj cabinet clears MP anti-conversion law with provisions for alimony, 10-year jail term


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