I want to say who don't say Vande Mataram, can't worship the motherland, Giriraj Singh
Union Minister Giriraj Singh, long known for his controversial and polarising comments, today delivered another speech that goes against the recent promise he made to uphold communal harmony.
The veteran BJP leader, who has been pitched against former student leader Kanhaiya Kumar from Begusarai, had a sharp message – ostensibly for an RJD candidate.
"I want to say who don't say Vande Mataram, can't worship the motherland – Giriraj's father and grandfather died on the Simaria ghat by the banks of the Ganga and did not need a grave. You on the other hand, need three-arm's-length of land. If you don't do it, the country will never forgive you," he said.
On the face of it, the comment was meant for the RJD candidate from Darbhanga, Abdul Bari Siddiqui. "The RJD candidate said in Darbhanga that he won't say Vande Mataram," Giriraj Singh said.
But the minister has long been known for his communal remarks, for which he drew reprimand from ally Nitish Kumar last year.
The minister is known to "order" critics of the BJP to "go to Pakistan" at the drop of a hat. Yesterday, he had called on a ban on green flags – often associated with Islam – by the Election Commission. In November, his comment that the Islamic seminary of Deoband was a "temple of terrorism" had drawn protests.
After the seat sharing with Nitish Kumar's party was finalised, Giriraj Singh, however, had publicly said that he would uphold communal harmony.
On Friday, in presence of Nitish Kumar at a rally in Begusarai's Bakhri, he had said, "I will show you — Giriraj Singh will take every possible to step to uphold development and communal harmony which will fulfil the dreams of the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister and Ram Vilas Paswan".
Today, he accused the opposition of "trying to spread communal fire". "As long as the Bharatiya Janata Party is there, we won't let it happen, neither in Bihar nor in Begusarai," he said.
There was also a reference to Kanhaiya Kumar, whom the minister is not referring by name after what, sources say, are express instructions from the party. "Some people have also come to Begusarai, wearing big brother's kurta and little brother's pajama, who are spreading poison," he said instead.
So far, he has been referring to Mr Kumar, a Left candidate, as the "tukde tukde gang" — the BJP's standard phrase for ex-JNU activists like Kanhaiya Kumar, who are accused of raising anti-national slogans on campus.
The minister, who won in 2014 from Nawada, had gone into a sulk after he was fielded from Begusarai. The situation was resolved only after Amit Shah stepped in. The Nawada seat has been given to BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
Begusari, which is witnessing a three-cornered contest, is voting on April 29. The counting of votes will take place with the rest of the country on May 23.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.