Muzaffarpur/Gopalganj: In a sharp counter- attack on Nitish Kumar over his “outsider” jibe at him, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked him whether he would call Congress chief Sonia Gandhi also a ‘bahri’, asserting that he was not a PM of another country.
Taking on his rivals in RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s home turf of Gopalganj, he wondered if Kumar wanted the return of old days of ‘jungle raj’ when the region had turned into a ‘mini Chambal’, in a riposte to Kumar’s barb that he (PM) should return to the country its ‘old’ days if he cannot deliver the promised ‘achhe din’ (good days).
“Nitish babu says I am a bahri (outsider). I will ask (him) how I can be a bahri in Bihar which is a strong organ of India and whose people had voted to make me Prime Minister. Am I Pakistan’s Prime Minister? Am I Bangladesh’ or Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister?
“I will ask him if he also calls Madam Sonia, who lives in Delhi a bahri? Is she a bahri or Bihari? Those who cannot give an account of their work play these games to mislead them,” Modi said.
On the last day of campaigning for the fourth phase of Bihar assembly polls on November 1, Modi focused on blunting the grand alliance attack on the BJP-led NDA and raised the development pitch, saying only “twin engines” of the state and central government can pull the backward state out of the pit it had fallen into.
He also escalated his attack on the JD(U) leader and Chief Minister over his charge that he and his allies were “plotting” to give away a share of reservation enjoyed by SCs, STs and OBCs to a particular community, a reference to Muslims.
Modi said Nitish in a speech in Parliament on August 24, 2005 had spoken about giving quota to a particular community.
The grand alliance parties–Congress, RJD and JD(U)– together ruled the state for 60 years but were not tell people what they did.
On the reservation controversy, Modi said, “Nitish had made his intentions clear way back on August 24, 2005. They lost cool when I alleged that they want to steal away 5 per cent of reservation from the quota given to SCs/STs/OBCs and EBCs and give to a particular community.
“Even the makers of Indian Constitution were against it. I have the document of what he said in Parliament on August 25, 2005. I challenge him to reply to this if he has the courage. He tells such big lies and engages in cheap talk. This game is not going to last long,” he said.
Amid reports that BJP had shifted its poll pitch from development to Modi’s backward caste origins tactic to woo extremely backward castes (EBCs), Modi wondered if a son of backward cannot talk about development.
With reports suggesting that the BJP-led NDA was facing a tough challenge from the grand alliance, Modi claimed that the Nitish Kumar government will be comprehensively defeated in the same way Congress was in 1990 and Lalu Prasad in 2005.
People voted for Kumar because he had the blessings of BJP stalwart and then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee but he had failed to deliver, he said.
Pitching his government’s pro-poor schemes, he cited a number of projects like Jan Dhan bank accounts, insurance scheme and Mudra bank and noted that lakhs of Biharis had benefited from them.
Over 3.25 lakh people in Bihar were loaned Rs 1100 crore by banks under the Mudra scheme, under which small time businessmen are given loans, and over 70 lakh people had availed of the insurance and pension schemes launched by the Centre, he said, asking people to rise above small considerations to vote for development.
“If Bihar has to move forward, then people will have rise above small considerations. You will have to forget about personal relations and nepotism,” he said, countering the strong caste arithmetic put together by the grand alliance.
Suggesting that the media did not give due coverage to a sting operation, which purportedly showed Bihar government minister Awadhesh Kushwaha taking bribe, Modi said the accused was making a deal to “sell” the state but the news came and disappeared.
“Had it been a BJP leader, the news would have been shown for a whole week and we would have been beaten up with all sorts of sticks… Those in Delhi can forget about it but not the people of Bihar,” he said, adding that even his most bitter critic cannot accuse his government of corruption.
Calling for establishing a BJP government in the state like at the Centre, he said, “Bihar cannot be pulled out of the well it has fallen into by the single engine of state government. It needs two engines of the state as well as the Centre”.
Mocking Nitish’ anti-corruption measures he said the Chief Minister claims that he would seize assets of those accused of corruption but had he done done to the properties of his minister or Lalu Prasad, a convict in a corruption case. Kumar had sacked Kushwaha after the sting was telecast.
Modi said the package of Rs 1.65 crore for Bihar will change its fate and took a jibe at the Nitish’ meeting with a tantrik, whose footage was released by a BJP leader, saying “tantra mantra” cannot make a modern and progressive Bihar and its youths wanted laptops not amulets.
Promising rule of law and employment if BJP came to power, Modi said Bihar election is an opportunity to punish those who “looted” the state in the last 60 years including 25 years when ‘bada bhai-chhota bhai’ (Lalu-Nitish) ruled the state.
“Will you (youth) get employment as long as bada bhai and chhota bhai remain in power? Is the bada bhai (Lalu) bothered about anybody else except his sons and family members? When he went to jail earlier (in fodder scam), he made his wife Chief Minister.
“Now when he knows that he has to spend his remaining life in jail, he is asking his son to get ready fast to take the mantle. What kind of game is going on in this country. Should Bihar be handed over to such nepotists?” Modi said.