The ruling Janata Dal United (JD-U) in Bihar headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar has announced it would expel leaders taking dowry for the marriage of their children.
The party which has been in power in the state for the last 12 years also said it would punish leaders involved in solemnising child marriages.
“We have launched a massive campaign against the twin social evils of dowry and child marriages, and we expect our leaders to behave in accordance with our principles,” state JD-U president Vashishtha Narayan Singh told the media on Thursday.
He said the JD-U would not tolerate leaders accused of taking dowry or involved in conducting child marriages. “They will be kicked out of the party. Such leaders have no place in the JD-U,” he declared.
The warning comes barely 10 days after the state government launched a vigorous campaign against dowry and child marriages on October 2 to coincide with the 148th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
“The dream of development will remain unfulfilled until these two social evils are eradicated from the society,” Kumar said, kicking off the campaign in Patna. Hundreds of people also took an oath not to take dowry and promised to work for eradicating social evils.
According to an official report, the prevalence of child marriage in Bihar is 40 per cent, while dowry has been one of the main reasons behind social violence in the society. Bihar records the second highest number of dowry deaths and torture incidents in the country.
In a setback to the JD-U, however, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is the coalition partner in the ruling National Democratic Alliance government in the state has distanced itself from the JD-U campaign against dowry and child marriages.
“The BJP has already launched many such campaigns such as ‘save girl campaign’. There is nothing new in this,” said a BJP lawmaker Nitish Navin. However, the JD-U has asked all political parties to support this campaign.
JD-U president Nitish Kumar formed government with its arch-rival BJP in July last after breaking off from the erstwhile ruling Grand Alliance in what was described as a major political development. Strangely, the BJP and the federal government have kept on ignoring its ally in every matter, observers say.
Not only was the JD-U denied a place in the Narendra Modi government during the recent Cabinet reshuffle, the BJP has also announced it will contest all the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state on its own. Also, the Modi government is yet to allot funds for the flood victims that the state government sought last month even as the Centre has also rejected the JD-U’s demand for granting special category status to Bihar.