Prevented from Installing Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi’s Statue in UP, VIP Skips NDA Meet in Bihar

A day after he was stopped at the Varanasi airport where he had gone to install a giant-size statue of bandit-turned-Parliamentarian Phoolan Devi ahead of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls, Bihar Minister and President of Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) Mukesh Sahni on Monday skipped a meeting of the NDA here on the opening day of the monsoon session of the Bihar Assembly, reflecting chinks in the ruling coalition.

The meeting of the NDA legislators was chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in which those from BJP, JD(U) and Hindustani Awam Morcha participated but Sahni and four MLAs of his party gave a miss.

When asked why he did not attend the NDA meet, Sahni told reporters outside assembly, “There is nothing like NDA in Bihar. It seems that the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar means-JD (U) and BJP only. What is the point in attending a meeting where allies views are not heard”. He, however, said it was an internal matter of the coalition and asserted “Nitish Kumar is our leader and the VIP will remain as an alliance partner of the NDA.” The NDA meet was called after the adjournment of the proceedings of the house for the day. Besides, Kumar, deputy chief ministers-Tarkishor Prasad and Renu Devi, president of HAM Jitan Ram Manjhi and other ministers and legislators of the ruling coalition attended the meeting.

VIP, which had contested the last polls in Bihar as a partner of the NDA, has four MLAs. Sahni, who had lost election was later given a place in the cabinet and made a MLC. The incident is seen as a fallout of the Varanasi episode.

Sahni has already announced that his party will contest the next year’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on its own. Sahni said, Our party is ready to field candidates on 165 seats in the 2022 UP Assembly polls. The VIP chief is miffed with the Uttar Pradesh government as he was not allowed to come out of the Varanasi airport on Sunday. Sahni, who had gone there to attend an event to install Phoolan Devi’s bust in the city on her death anniversary, was detained at the airport and sent back to Patna.

Sahni, who hails from Nishad (fishermen caste) wanted to install statue of Phoolan Devi, also a nishad. The Bihar minister in fact had got 18 giant-size statues of the former dacoit-turned politician for installation in as many districts in UP to reach out to nishad caste voters.

Making a scathing attack on the UP chief minister, the VIP president said, Yogi Adityanath Jee must understand that this is not the way of treating a minister. It is not right to detain a minister. We are part of the NDA in Bihar only, not in UP. We have decided to contest on 165 seats in UP in the coming assembly polls”. Meanwhile, when a reaction of Bihar BJP president and MP Sanjay Jaiswal was sought on Sahni’s failed attempt to put out bandit queen’s statue in the neighbouring state, he said , “the High Court has put a restriction on installation of statues in UP. Even Yogi jee can’t do so.”

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