Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Saturday said casteism was embedded in the DNA of Bihar, evoking sharp reactions from both Congress and JD(U)
"Bihar ke DNA mein jaativad hai. Isi liye log caste ke barey mein zyada charcha karte hain," Gadkari told the media during his visit to Patna on Saturday.
He told reporters Congress, RJD and JD (U) were "multi-communal" parties and promoted "terrorism in the garb of secularism", while accusing Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar of seeking votes on caste and communal considerations.
By "multi-communal", he said he meant "reinforcing a 100% communal mindset with an additional dose of extreme communalism".
Gadkari who is to visit Supaul and Katihar Lok Sabha constituencies, said imprisoned former RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin, known for his links with the Congress nominee from Varanasi, Ajay Rai, was an example of "terrorism in the garb of secularism".
Claiming the NDA would get more than 272 seats on its own, Gakdari promised a secular police, media, government, bureaucracy and judiciary if the BJP came to power at the Centre.
Referring to withdrawal of the JD (U) nominee from Kishanganj Lok Sabha constituency, Akhtarul Inam, Gadkari claimed it was done at the behest of chief minister Nitish Kumar to promote his brand of secularism by trying to polsairse Muslim and Yadav votes.
Gadkari's statements set off a storm, with Congress spokesman Prem Chandra Mishra stating Gadkari has insulted Bihar and its 10.5 crore people.
"Gadkari's mindset is same as that of the MNS led by Raj Thackeray who believes in beating up Biharis. After all, they are in league and allies," he said.
JD (U) spokesperson Nawal Kishore Sharma sought an apology from the BJP leader.
"The BJP leadership's double facedness vis-à-vis Bihar has been exposed again," he added.
Gadkari also reiterated his party's stand that it would abrogate Article 370, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), saying the article was the biggest hurdle in the development of tourism and industry in the state and a cause of poverty, terrorism and unemployment.