The war of words between Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has escalated with Nitish sending a new verbal missile — ‘shabdwapsi’ (‘take back you word’) campaign, agencies report.
Hitting back at Modi for his ‘DNA remark’, Nitish tweeted Monday: “In this shabdwapsi /take back your words/ campaign, at least 50 lakh people of Bihar will join the campaign and send their DNA samples to Modiji for test.”
Earlier, Modi had said Kumar severed his party’s ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for personal gain, adding there was something wrong with Kumar’s ‘political DNA’ that led the JD(U) leader to ditch friends who worked with him.
The remark hurt the sentiments of Biharis, Nitish said.
He said his party would also take a Swabhiman (self-respect) rally on August 29 at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan to take the campaign forward.
Addressing an election rally in Gaya Sunday, Modi asked the voters of Bihar to use the upcoming assembly polls as an opportunity to “free themselves from the jungle raj” by electing a BJP-led government to develop and modernise the state.
“You have suffered their arrogance, deceit and exploitation for the past 25 years. Do you want such a rule to continue for another five years,” he asked the rally.
In a lighter vein, he said while the RJD stands for ‘rozana jungle raaj ka dar’ (‘Daily fear of jungle raj’), JD(U) stood for ‘Janata ka daman-utpidan’ (‘Suppression and oppression of the people’).
“The youth here [of Bihar state] leave their aged parents to go out of the state for employment. Do we need such a government? Can JD(U) and RJD be handed over the reins of power for one more term,” he asked the gathering which shouted back a resounding ‘no’.
Observing that Bihar was part of the ‘BIMARU’ (sick) states, Modi said BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were finally able to usher in development and remove the BIMARU tag.
BIMARU denotes the backward states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
“Give us five years, we will ensure that Bihar gets out of the ‘BIMARU’ category,” he said.
Responding to Modi, Nitish said: “The Prime Minister first pointed fingers at Bihar’s DNA, now he called the state ‘sick’ (‘BIMARU’). I had requested him to take back his words. But he did nothing of the sort… I think he has forgotten that Bihar is not called ‘BIMARU’ any more.”
Modi also made a swipe at the RJD’s alliance headed by former chief minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad.
He said: “In his [Lalu’s] earlier jungle raj [as chief minister) in Bihar, a new experience of jail has been added which threatens to make ‘jungle raj II’ all the more damaging.”
Modi was referring to the recent jail term served by Lalu in Ranchi in connection with a multi-crore fodder scandal. Lalu’s conviction disqualified him as a Lok Sabha (lower house) member from Saran constituency and also prohibited him from contesting elections for 11 years.
Responding to Modi’s ‘jungle raj-II’remark, Lalu accused him of lowering the dignity his office.
“Narendra Modi has given a new low to the standards of a Prime Minister. People are looking at him as a joke now,” the political maverick said in a tweet.
“The Prime Minister should ask his friend Amit Shah [president of Modi’s saffron party, BJP] what else he has learnt in addition to falsehood … and dividing people from the jail,” he said.
Shah too had been arrested and jailed in a case related to a fake encounter case.