By Dheeraj Kumar
Patna: After shocking revelation of sexual abuse of girls at Muzaffarpur’s short shelter home, the girls` safety has emerged as the most formidable issue in Bihar politics.
Ruling and opposition parties have locked their horns as never before with Rashtriya Janata Dal attacking chief minister Nitish Kumar in an attempt to tarnish his image, beyond redemption if possible ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha election.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad`s youngest son and leader of opposition in Bihar assembly Tejaswi Yadav staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday on the issues of sexual exploitation of girls at Muzaffarpur`s short stay home.
The congregation of opposition stalwarts at Tejaswi`s dharna programme at Jatnar Mantar is also seen as a demonstration of their ‘growing’ proximity before the next general election. It was yet another occasion for them to re-assert their ‘strong’ unity.
As Tejaswi takes the party`s protest against Muzaffarpur incident to the next level by holding programmes in the national capital, senior leaders of non-Bharatiya Janata Party including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Socialist Sharad Yadav participated in the RJD sponsored dharna at Jantar Mantar.
Tejaswi has extended his fight beyond Bihar and political observers say this is a shrewd ploy to improve his political stature among the ranks of the Opposition parties. On face though, he claimed that his dharna was an apolitical event.
Tejaswi, apparently positioning himself for the post of chief minister in 2020 state assembly election knows very well that if he has to be accepted as a serious contender to the post of CM, he will be required to match the stature of veteran Nitish. The Muzaffarpur event is one such opportunity at a time when the crime graph is on rise of late in the state. There has been an alarming rise in cases of sexual violence and according to the latest data available on the website of Bihar Police, the number of rapes in the month of January was 74 and rose to 88 and 127 in February and March this year.
Acknowledging the likely impact of the rise in popularity graph of Tejaswi, JD (U) and BJP have stepped up their offensive against him -leveling charges of eve-teasing.
Bihar Deputy CM and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi has accused Tejaswi and his elder brother and MLA Tej Pratap Yadav of eve-teasing and passing comments on girls in New Delhi in 2008 and then allegedly getting beaten up by a group of people.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who had broken his silence on Muzaffarpur incident after a long gap did not make any personal attack on Tejaswi. But instead he admitted the incident has shamed the government, also promising that those found guilty will be “severely punished”.
The Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognisance of the Bihar shelter home rape cases seeking explanation from Nitish government and the union women and child development ministry as to why neither body took action to stop minor girls from being raped in shelters home in Muzaffarpur.
As many as 34 minor girls were sexually exploited at the shelter home. The CBI has already started investigation into the case by registering an FIR in this connection.