Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday asked chief minister Nitish Kumar if he considered Congress president Sonia Gandhi an “outsider” too, ramping up the ‘Bihari vs bahri’ battle ahead of the crucial fourth round of polling on Sunday.
Speaking at whistle-stop rallies in Gopalganj and Muzaffarpur, Modi also urged the people of the state to vote decisively for the BJP-led NDA, pitting the coalition’s “corruption-free” 16-month rule at the Centre against Nitish Kumar’s “tainted” rule.
Modi’s twin rallies in north-western Bihar came hours before closing of campaigning for 55 seats -- out of the state’s total of 243 -- which will go to the polls in the fourth round.
“Nitish babu says I am a bahri (outsider). I will ask (him) how I can be a bahri in Bihar which is a strong organ of India and whose people had voted to make me Prime Minister. Am I Pakistan’s prime minister? Am I Bangladesh’s or Sri Lanka’s prime minister?,” Modi said in his rally at Gopalganj.
“I will ask him if he also calls Madam Sonia, who lives in Delhi a bahri? Is she a bahri or Bihari? Those who cannot give an account of their work play these games to mislead them,” the Prime Minister added.
Fighting together as the grand alliance, the JD-U, RJD and Congress are locked in a neck-and-neck battle with the BJP-led NDA, for whom the state is considered a semi-final ahead of the bigger battle for Uttar Pradesh in 2017.
The Prime Minister also raised the development pitch, saying that only “twin engines” of the state and central governments can pull the backward state out of the pit.
“By ending the wheeling and dealing in New Delhi, I have saved the country from the scourge of corruption. I have done a service to the poor of India,” he said.
Modi also reeled off scores of scams that had allegedly taken place during successive Lalu and Nitish governments in Bihar since 1990.
“A mandate to them at this stage would be to give a mandate for more scams. If you want an honest government, vote NDA,” he urged people.
Referring to a 2009 Bihar law providing for seizure of property of corruption-accused public servants, Modi wondered why the RJD chief’s property had not been seized even though he had been convicted in a fodder scam case (in September 2013).
“Laluji has been convicted in a corruption case. Have you seized his house and opened a school in it? Whom are you fooling, Nitish babu?” a combative Modi asked.
At Muzaffarpur, Modi said Rs 1,001 crore in small loans to the poor and lower middle class Bihari families under his Mudra loan scheme would lift thousands of people out of the clutches of money-lenders.
He also escalated his attack on the JD(U) leader and chief minister over his charge that he and his allies were “plotting” to give away a share of reservation enjoyed by SCs, STs and OBCs to a particular community, a reference to Muslims.
Modi said Nitish, in a speech in Parliament on August 24, 2005 had spoken about giving quota to a particular community.
(With inputs from)