PATNA: Cacophemism and name-calling marked the high-volatge sparring today between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the Bihar electoral battle.
Adressing a rally in Gaya, Modi, who had recently described Lalu Prasad's RJD as a party signifying "Rojana Jungle Raj Ka Dar", coined another name for its ally JD(U) calling it "Janata ka Daman aur Utpidan (Oppression and Suppression of People)".
Hitting back, Kumar said BJP means Badka Jhutha Party (party of big liars) and 'Bhartiya Jumla Party'.
"If PM brings down the standard of discourse by describing our party as Janata Ka Daman aur Utpiran and runs down Bihar and its people, then I am constrained to say that the BJP means Badka Jhutha Party," he told reporters.
"I cannot think of any other name for the BJP other than it being a Badka Jhutha Party (Big Liars Party) at this stage....I may think about some other name depending on the PM's barb at us," Kumar said in a tit-for-tat.
Not stopping at that he said BJP will be now called 'Bhartiya Jumla Party' and recalled BJP chief Amit Shah's statement about Prime Minister's promise of bringing back black money stashed abroad that it was mere "jumla" (platitude).
"People will now call it 'Bhartiya Jumla Party'...I even saw an advertisement which described it as 'Bada Jhootha Party'," he said. Kumar accused Modi of bringing down the standard of discourse in public life by making personal and baseless attacks on his political rivers
He also accused of Modi of lying that tourists' footfall was low in Bihar, particularly in Gaya, due to lack of infrastructure
"It's matter of regret that the PM spoke negative things and lies in a holy town like Gaya," Kumar said and asked the former to check data with the tourism ministry. Kumar also lshed out at Modi for warning of a return of 'Jungle Raj' if JD(U)-RJD alliance were to come to power after the assembly elections, reminding him of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's advice made in the aftermath of 2002 Gujarat riots to follow 'Raj Dharma'.
Modi said, "If Jungle Raj part II arrives, everything will be ruined. During Jungle Raj part I there was no experience of jail, which would be there now. Nobody learns good things in jail", hinting at RJD chief Lalu Prasad's incarceration in the fodder scam.
To this, Kumar retorted ,"Why doesn't he remember Vajpayee's advice of following Raj Dharma after the Gujarat riots. Such a situation has never been witnessed here."
Kumar said that he had hoped that Prime Minister will come up with some package for Bihar during his second visit in two weeks and withdraw the 'DNA' remark on him which Modi should not have said at the first instance given that he occupied a high constitutional post.
In pointed rebuttal to the Prime Minister's charges, the Chief Minister categorically denied that Bihar was still a BIMARU state (an acronym for backward states comprising Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) and said that contrary to Modi's perception, the state was healthy and doing well on parameters like health, education among others.
"I totally disagree with Modi's perception that Bihar still remains a BIMARU state and to me, the state is healthy on parameters like health and education among others," he said.
"Let the Prime Minister come up with data to prove that Bihar still remained a BIMARU state in comparison to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh," Kumar said.
The Chief Minister also countered Modi's charge that he had promised to supply electricity to all households by 2015 or else not seek votes, saying that he had promised to improved power scenario in Bihar and showed video recording of his speech at independence day function three years ago to prove his point.
On Modi's promise during 2014 general elections for decriminalization of politics, Kumar challenged him to do so in Bihar assembly polls and asked the PM to ensure that the BJP-led NDA does not put up candidates with criminal background.
About the PM claiming that having governments at the Centre and in states by the same party helps to fasttrack development, the senior JD(U) leader said that there was no merit in such claim going by Modi's own admission that development in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh had taken place over the past decade and charged him with going back on his emphasis on cooperative federalism.
"Is it cooperative federalism when you threaten to derail development in a particular state which does not elect your party to power?" he asked and in the same vein charged the Prime Minister with "terrorising" the voters in Bihar to elect his party BJP to power.
On the Prime Minister running down performance of all governments in Bihar over the past quarter century, Kumar thanked him saying it will restrain the local BJP leaders from claiming credit for development in Bihar for seven and a half years in which BJP was part of the state government.
The senior JD(U) leader took on Modi for claiming that the jail produces only bad habits in inmates and said that the remark goes against public perception in which prisons are a reform centre.
There are all kinds of reformist programmes, including yoga classes organised for prisoners so that they overcome bad habits and become better persons post-release from jails, Kumar noted and mocked the PM for describing the jails as a place from where one learns only bad things even while the BJP national president was sitting next to him on dias in Gaya.
"I wonder why BJP has given such a big responsibility to Shah who must have learnt bad things from jail going by the PM's inference from public platform," he said.
On the Prime Minister's claim about seats in Bihar for engineering students being less compared to many other states, Kumar said that he gave data about many states in which he had no contributions, but did not utter a word about in-take capacity in Gujarat which he ruled for more than a decade.
Modi should also explain about drop out of students in IITs and other prominent engineering colleges and number of jobs given by the Centre to engineers, he asked.
The senior JD(U) hit out at Modi for finding faults with him, his party and government ever since he severed ties with the NDA two years ago and said that earlier the BJP was finding everything praiseworthy about him.
"It's called opportunism when you praise ally and rubbish it once you are dumped," he said.
Meanwhile, NCP general secretary Tariq Anwar attacked the Prime Minister for describing jails as a place where one learns only bad things and asked him why Amit Shah was made the president of BJP despite the fact that he had been imprisoned on criminal charges..
"If a jail is such a bad place where one learns only bad things, then why did you make Shah the president of BJP," he asked.
The NCP leader alleged that a number of BJP ministers in the central government were facing serious criminal charges and yet they find fault with the state governments, particular in Bihar, on law and order situation.
Anwar hit out at the Centre for giving 'Y' category security to expelled RJD MP and founder of Jan Adhikar Party Pappu Yadav.
The NCP leader, who represents Katihar Lok Sabha seat, also condemned Modi for his caustic remarks on Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar during successive public meetings in Muzaffapur and Gaya.