Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday "urged" Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an open letter to take back the comments he made about his "political DNA" during a political rally last month in the state.
Kumar asked the Prime Minister to withdraw remarks on his DNA to assuage the 'hurt' sentiments of the people of Bihar.
"The issue has been troubling many of us since then... Your words have been taken as an insult by a large section of the people of the state and beyond. Most of us also feel that coming from you, the comment is rather unbecoming of the office you hold," Kumar said in the letter that has been released on Twitter.
Modi had singled out Kumar for criticising him as he rolled out the NDA's campaign for assembly election which are due by October this year. Modi said Kumar broke up with the BJP for personal gain.
"I was hurt when he withdrew his support. But when he did the same thing to a Mahadalit such as Jitan Manjhi, then I figured out there is something wrong in his political DNA," Modi said, referring to the JD(U)'s split with the BJP in 2013.
The Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were political allies in Bihar for 15 years till they split ahead of the 2014 general election after Modi was projected as NDA's prime ministerial candidate. Since then, Kumar has been one of the strongest critics of Modi.
"I am a son of Bihar. My DNA is similar as that of the people of Bihar... I grew up in a humble household in rural Bihar... Most of us feel that these statements, beyond questioning my own descent, have disrespected the lineage of our people and have denigrated the great legacy of the state," added Kumar.
Kumar also reminded the PM about almost similar aspersions made by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari. "This is not the first time that we have faced this. Earlier as well, your colleague and BJP leader, Mr Nitin Gadkari had said that "casteism is in the DNA of Bihar".
He also said that such comments by Modi give credence to the feeling that "perhaps you and your party hold a prejudice against the people of Bihar. I wonder how come the gravity of such statements repeatedly misses your alert conscience."
"I have no doubt that this gesture of yours would go a long way in assuaging the sentiments of the people and would further enhance the respect people have for you."
In an interview with the Hindustan Times, Kumar had expressed similar views saying that Modi's "tone and tenor was unbecoming of a Prime Minister".
"My father was a freedom fighter. But they (BJP and RSS) had not participated in the freedom struggle. Only such people who have nothing to do with the freedom struggle can question others' DNA. It is indecent on his part and an insult to Bihar and its people," he had said.