The BJP Sunday distanced itself from party leader Giriraj Singh's remark that Pakistan is the place for those opposing its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, while opposing parties like the Congress, JD-U and RJD slammed the comments. The defiant leader, however, refused to apologise.
The Congress, in a strong attack, questioned whether Bharatiya Janata Party leaders like L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi who allegedly oppose Modi would also be sent to Pakistan. Both Congress and the Janata Dal-United filed complaints against the BJP leader with the Election Commission.
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad said BJP leaders have no work except to spread hatred and talk nonsense during the campaigning for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. "People will give them (the BJP) a fitting reply by voting against them," he told media persons in Patna.
Also in Patna, workers of the JD-U and the RJD burnt effigies of Giriraj Singh and former BJP president Nitin Gadkari - the latter targeted for his remarks that "casteism is in Bihar's DNA".
An FIR for inflammatory speech was also registered against Giriraj Singh at a local police station in Jharkhand's Deoghar -- where he had made the remarks at an election rally Saturday.
A day after calling those against Modi "pro-Pakistan" elements, he had said: "Those opposing Narendra Modi are looking at Pakistan, and such people will have place in Pakistan and not in India." Gadkari was also present at the rally.
Giriraj Singh, who is fighting the Lok Sabha poll from Nawada in Bihar, remained defiant Sunday as well, repeating more or less the same statement in Bihar's Bhagalpur constituency during campaigning.
He alleged that Pakistan is trying to stop Modi from becoming the prime minister, and some in India are acting at its behest.
"There are many powerful countries that don't want Modi to become the prime minister. Pakistan is one of them... they have been trying to destabilise India with terror acts," the BJP leader told reporters.
"I said there are powers in India which are pro-Pakistan... who shelter terrorists and don't want Modi to become the prime minister. They consider Pakistan their mentor," he said.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said "the party clearly distances itself from the statement".
Party leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said in a tweet: "BJP doesn't approve of irresponsible statement given by Giriraj Singh."
Party sources said Rajnath Singh also pulled up the Bihar legislator and sent a message asking him to refrain from making such comments.
Terming it "cheap politics to get cheap publicity", Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal told IANS: "Several BJP leaders like (L.K.) Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj are all against Narendra Modi. Will they be sent to Pakistan as well?"
"Leaders of other parties, Lalu Prasad, Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, Jayalalithaa - will all of them be sent to Pakistan," Afzal wondered.
Newly-appointed Congress incharge of Bihar Satyavarat Chaturvedi, who arrived in Patna Sunday, said BJP leaders are trying to create hatred for polarisation of votes. "But people of Bihar are more mature than BJP leaders," he said.
JD-U state president Vashisht Narain Singh said BJP is hell-bent on dividing the country along communal lines and its leaders have been insulting the people of Bihar.
Both Congress and JD-U filed complaints with the Election Commission against Giriraj Singh, as well as Gadkari.