Prime Minister Narendra Modi backed BJP leaders Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Vasundhara Raje on Sunday as the two chief ministers facing Opposition fire for their alleged links to the Vyapam exam scam and Lalit Modi controversy.
At an election rally in Bihar’s Gaya district, the Prime Minister tried to strip chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar of his “development hero” tag, as he praised Chouhan and Raje for pulling their states out of the “sick list”.
“Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were among Bimaru (an acronym in Hindi comprising the first letters of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh where the development index was extremely low) states with Bihar, UP and Odisha, but have managed to get out of the rut within a short span of time,” he said on the second leg of his campaign for the polls likely to be held by October.
“Bihar also needs a compatible government and not one which applies an ‘ulta lota’ (inverted pitcher) to draw water out of the Ganga of development that flows from New Delhi.”
Opposition parties have stalled Parliament this monsoon session, demanding the resignations of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Chouhan over the Vyapam test-rigging scam with dozens of people linked to it dying mysteriously, as well as his Rajasthan counterpart, Raje, over allegations that she helped controversial former IPL chief Lalit Modi.
While the Prime Minister’s praise for embattled Chouhan and Raje may have offered them relief, it irked Nitish Kumar who was quick to join the debate.
“Can the Prime Minister demonstrate the indices he is speaking about while damning Bihar?” he asked at a hurriedly called press briefing in Patna.
“He has used words to damn Bihar, which do not behove the PM’s chair. He has also threatened that if the people do not vote a BJP government, development will not come to Bihar. Is this the so called cooperative federalism that Modi talks about?”