Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned voters in poll-bound Bihar on Friday that a victory for the grand alliance led by chief minister Nitish Kumar would mean the return of “jungle raj” and RJD leader Lalu Prasad running the government with a “remote control”.
Modi latched on to the shooting of a top police official in Patna this week to buttress his point of lawlessness in the eastern state, while he ramped up attacks on rivals with anecdotes and data to push for a BJP win as opinions polls predict a tight finish.
“This has happened before the election result. In a state where a police officer is not safe what will happen to the common people?” he asked at a public meeting, while he also cited 4,000 cases of kidnapping allegedly recorded between January and July this year.
“When we talk about ‘jungle raj’, it is Nitish Kumar who gets disturbed and not Lalu. It is he who had called Lalu’s rule as ‘jungle raj’. Now he is objecting to it being called so. Does Bihar need jungle raj again?”
His comments were seen as a dig at former rivals Kumar and Prasad who have closed ranks as part of the grand alliance also comprising the Congress to take on a BJP-led coalition in the caste-riddled state.
“Till very recently they were opposing each other. Now the lust for power has brought them together,” he said, exhorting the people to punish parties in the anti-BJP combine, which he called the “mahaswarthabandhan”, or “selfish alliance”. “Instead of giving an account of their rule, they look up dictionaries every morning to hurl new invectives against me.”
In his sweeping campaign, the Prime Minister has promised development to the backward state while censuring rabble-rousers within and outside his party for trying to fuel sectarian tensions against the backdrop of the mob killing of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh last week.
The RJD chief was in the crosshairs of the PM’s charged remarks as Modi obliquely reminded voters about Prasad’s conviction in a fodder scam case and his disbarment from contesting lections.
“Ask Laluji why he is not in the poll fray,” he prodded the crowds. “He now wants to run Bihar through remote control since he himself cannot contest elections. He says that he is a ‘Big Boss’ and he can make anyone dance to his tunes.”
Stung by Modi’s statements on the campaign trail, the RJD complained to the Election Commission (EC) on Friday that the PM had said Prasad was under the influence of “shaitan”, or the Devil.
“If I am ‘shaitan’, he is a ‘Brahma Pishach’ (a powerful demon spirit as described in ancient Hindu texts),” the RJD chief retorted. “I would tell the people of the state about the PM’s ‘shaitan’ remark against me.”