Bhagalpur: Under fierce attack for his DNA jibe against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, which has been turned into a major electoral weapon against him, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sought to make amends, calling Biharis the “most intelligent” people.
He also charged Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad with “sacrificing” the legacy of towering socialist leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan by sharing platform with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Addressing the last of BJP’s ‘Parivartan’ rallies in the election-bound state before the poll schedule is announced, Modi launched a blistering attack on his RJD-JD(U) rivals, charging them with spreading the “poison of casteism and communalism” during their 25-year rule.
In the rally billed as the BJP’s counter to the impressive ‘Swabhiman Rally’ of the newly formed ‘Grand Secular Alliance’, which was attended by Sonia Gandhi, besides Kumar, Lalu and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother Shivpal, Modi claimed credit for making development an agenda in the state elections for the first time.
“After 25 years, people of Bihar have decided to vote for development and form a government for development. Nobody can stop this (NDA’s) victory march irrespective of how many parties and leaders come together against us.”
“Two days back there was a sacrificial meeting in Gandhi Maidan in which JP, Lohia and Karpuri Thakur were sacrificed. Lohia fought against Congress but his disciples have now betrayed him for their lust for power. They have joined hands with those (Congress) who put JP in jail,” Modi said, asking people to “sacrifice” such people by voting them out.
Modi, facing sustained criticism by Kumar and Lalu for his DNA dig at the Bihar Chief Minister, lavished praise on the people of the state, saying the “most intelligent people live in Bihar”.
The Prime Minister, who had earlier announced a Rs 1.25 lakh crore package for the state, referred to Kumar’s sop of Rs 2.7 lakh crore, and claimed that the Bihar Chief Minister was forced to do so after he made development a major poll plank.
“They ridiculed my package but realised in two-three days that people have seen through their game. So they were forced to announce their own development package. I am very happy that development has become a poll issue in Bihar,” he said.
Modi also accused Kumar of having “cheated” the people with the so-called development package of Rs 2.7 lakh crore, insisting it was merely the sum of annual budgets of Rs 50 to 55 thousand crore each year over five years.
Contrasting it with the package announced by him, Modi said the development proposals worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore promised by the Centre is beyond the around Rs 3.75 lakh crore rupees that the state would get towards its annual budget from the Finance Commission.
“It needs to be asked where will the rest of Rs 1.76 lakh crore will go if the state only gives Rs 2.7 lakh crore. Will it go the fodder scam way,” Modi said, taking a jibe at RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who has been convicted in the fodder scam and barred from contesting elections.
“This is an attempt to befool the people of Bihar. This is an attempt cheat them. They should realize no one can befool the people of Bihar,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister also hit back at his rivals for accusing him of “not fulfilling promises” he had made in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls, saying that instead of accounting for their 25 year-rule they are now questioning his work.
“Is this election not for Bihar Assembly and to form a government in the state? Whether those who have ruled the state for 25 years should not be held accountable for this period and be asked to tell what they did. They are not ready to explain what they have done but are instead seeking answers from Modi.”
“I promise I will explain what the Centre has done when general elections are held in 2019. I will give an account of everything then,” he said, attacking Kumar once again for having “gone back” on his promise of providing electricity to all by 2015.
Alleging the Bihar Chief Minister “went back on his promise” of providing electricity before 2015, he said the youths of the state born 25 years ago are now asking why they have to go outside the state in search of livelihood. “The time has come that such a government is changed,” he said.
Maintaining that it was expected that some concrete plans and policy measures would be announced at the Sunday rally of the NDA’s rivals, he said the secular alliance leaders, however, “disappointed not only Bihar but the whole nation” as nothing was said on how they would develop the state and take it forward.
“Everyone had only one programme–Modi, Modi, Modi. Youths do chant Modi! Modi! in the NDA rallies or when I go abroad but I was surprised to see them do the same,” the Prime Minister said.
After his government allowed the contentious land ordinance to lapse last night and brought an order instead to ensure that benefits of land law accrue to farmers whose parcels are acquired under 13 other central laws, Modi sought votes to form “a government for farmers’ welfare” in Bihar and rubbished the pro-farmer pitch made by his rivals.
Modi said that for the first time in 25 years, Bihar will vote for development and accused Kumar and Lalu of spreading “poison of casteism and communalism”.
Alleging that the condition of infrastructure and health deteriorated under Kumar and that his government did not even spend Rs 521 crore given to it by Centre for health care, Modi wondered “whether this is the service of the poor”.
Hitting back at his rivals for their attack on him for “remembering Bihar after 14 months,” the Prime Minister said he always showed his concern for the state and alleged the Chief Minister was not aware about the earthquake when it hit the state when he called to enquire about it some months back.
“There are taunts that I have remembered Bihar after 14 months. I should tell people of Bihar when Nepal was hit by the earthquake and I felt its impact would also be felt in the state, I was the first person to call the Bihar Chief Minister and ask about the situation.
“He said that he was in Delhi and does not have information. Then I got into touch will NDA leaders in Bihar and asked my ministers here to do the needful. It is always the Delhi government and the Prime Minister who respond first whenever a crisis visits Bihar.
“When there is no question of forgetting Bihar, where does the question of remembering it arises,” Modi said. Noting that the entire country is waiting for Bihar to prosper as only then the nation will march ahead, Modi urged the people to vote the BJP-led NDA to power with a massive mandate.
The Prime Minister expressed confidence that people will not be affected by “rumours” being spread by his rivals. Claiming that his rally at Bhagalpur has broken the records of all rallies held in Bihar in last many years, Modi said, “Political pundits will read which way the wind is blowing. They will recognize the mood of people.”