In a strong rebuff to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his DNA barb against chief minister Nitish Kumar, the ruling Janata Dal (United) on Tuesday launched its ‘Shabd Wapsi’ campaign by collecting hair and nail samples of people from Bihar for dispatching to the PM’s office, at a dharna here on Tuesday.
The JD(U), pitted against the BJP in the coming assembly polls, plans to make the DNA barb a poll issue by projecting PM Modi as ‘anti Bihari’, casting aspersions on the state’s DNA and hurting Bihari asmita (pride).
The campaign began with party workers collecting hair and nail samples of hundreds of people, including partymen, in sachets, which would be sent to the PM’s office in Delhi.
The party would stage similar sit ins at all district headquarters on August 13 and at the block headquarters on August 20. “We waited for the Prime Minister’s ‘Shabd Wapsi’ in Gaya, but it didn’t happen. This protest is for him to take back his words. So, we are sending him the samples and he can get them tested,” said the chief minister. Kumar said that the campaign would continue till the PM took back his words.
There is anger in the JD(U) rank and file over PM Modi’s statement at the BJP’s Parivartan rally in Muzaffarpur that “there was something wrong in the chief minister’s DNA”.
On the other hand, the saffron party has clarified that the PM had referred to Kumar’s ‘political DNA’ to assert that the chief minister always betrayed those who backed him - be it the BJP or party veterans like George Fernandes.
“PM Modi has insulted Biharis by questioning the chief minister’s DNA. He is the son of a freedom fighter. We are collecting samples so that the Prime Minister can get them tested and tell us what is wrong with the DNA of Biharis,” said Neeraj Kumar and Sanjay Gandhi, state JD(U) leaders and MLCs, who were present at the dharna. They also attacked Modi for the Godhra riots in Gujarat, saying PM Modi should first clarify what are the characteristics of his own “DNA”.
JD( U) legislator Gandhi slammed senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi for terming the DNA collection campaign “a big drama”.
“We are not bothered about the cost. We will collect the samples and send them to the PMO. It is PM Modi who will have to bear the cost and get them tested,” he said.
Placards and banners could be seen were plastered all over the place with slogans like “Mujhe Bihari hone par garv hai, hamarey DNA mein koi khrabi nahin; Shak hai to jaanch kara lo (there is nothing wrong with Biharis’ DNA. Get it tested if there is any doubt)”.
RJD’s youth wing also staged a dharna along with the JD(U)’s sit in to protest against Modi’s ‘DNA’ remark.
Prominent among those present at the dharna were JD(U)’s Rajya Sabha MPs Pawan Verma, Harivansh and state leaders, including MLCs Sanjay Gandhi, Neeraj Kumar, Ram Bachan Rai, Ranveer Nandan and Sanjay Singh. “The Prime Minister’s observation that Bihar is a BIMARU state and people here are ‘durbhagyashaali’ is also an insult to Biharis,” said JD(U) MP Pawan Verma.
Meanwhile, RJD president Lalu Prasad questioned as to why the BJP was silent on Vyapam scam. “Why are those shouting ‘jungleraj-jungleraj’ keeping silent over ‘Vyapamraj’? If they speak on this issue, then Parliament will function... so much of double standard?” Prasad said in a tweet. The RJD chief was in the firing line of the Prime Minister at the Gaya rally.
Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi on Tuesday alleged that the government was using the information and public relations department to intimidate and blackmail the media into giving more publicity to the JD(U) at the cost of the opposition, in the run-up to assembly polls.
“Key poll campaign strategist of the ruling party, Prashant Kishor and IPRD minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary are threatening to stop advertisements to the media, if they carried news of Opposition parties with prominence,” Modi said, while talking to newsmen.
Modi said he would stage a dharna in front of the office of Press Council of India in Delhi, against the “brazen” use of government machinery to blackmail the media, which, he said, was the result of the ruling party’s “failure to win over people of the state through its campaign blitz.”
The BJP leader alleged that chief minister Nitish Kumar cannot stand scrutiny and criticism from the media, so his men have resorted to intimidation to force the media submit to its whims and fancies. “All this is reviving the memories of attacks on newspapers and mediapersons during RJD rule,” he said.
Modi also appealed to media houses not to give in to the dictatorial ways of the chief minister and ensure coverage of political parties and its leader as per their wisdom. Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said Nitish Kumar was making unnecessary hue and cry over the Prime Minister’s remark on his “political DNA” by launching ‘Shabd Wapsi’ (take back your word) campaign, which, he alleged, was being done with the sole intent of diverting public attention from the development agenda.
A JD(U) supporter participates in the 's signature campaign in Patna on Tuesday. (HT Photo/APDube)
He said the BJP would contest the polls on development agenda and will not give the JD(U) and RJD combine an opportunity to dilute the development agenda.
Questioning the need for collecting DNA samples of ruling party workers, Modi said, “This test is generally related to determination of accusing Kishor and Chaudhary, who holds additional charge of the department, with running the IPRD as the publicity wing of the JD(U), the former deputy chief minister said, “The BJP will not allow this. We will stand up for the rights and independence of the media and oppose efforts to gag its voice.”
Modi also took exception to Kumar hosting the “Bihar Development Dialogue” at a fivestar hotel in New Delhi recently paternity issue, as in recent ND Tiwary case. The JD(U) must explain what they are trying to ascertain.”
“As for ‘political DNA’, the test is done by the electorate. The test is just twothree months away and we believe the voters will correctly decode the ‘political DNA’ of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad in the ensuing polls,” he said.
on the lines of the state government’s aborted “Badh Chala Bihar” campaign and alleged that the speakers were ‘hired’ to participate in the event.
“There is no justification in the state government holding such events when it has reached the fag end of its term,” Modi said, demanding a probe into expenditure by the IPRD on publicity campaign and also the activities carried out by Bihar Foundation recently.