BHAGALPUR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today continued his campaign blitzkrieg in Bihar where he mounted a counter attack on Nitish Kumar for "cheating" the people with his 2.7 lakh crore development vision, but sought to assuage the hurt his DNA barb against the Chief Minister might have caused to Bihari pride.
Addressing BJP's fourth 'Parivartan Rally' in the state in little over a month, Modi also accused Kumar and his new ally RJD chief Lalu Prasad, both products of the JP movement, of sacrificing the legacy of socialist icons Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan by aligning with Congress.
He also accused the two leaders of spreading the "poison of casteism and communalism" during the 25 years they ruled the key Hindi heartland state.
"For 2-3 days after I announced a special package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore for Bihar which along with the Rs 40,000 crore of the earlier package totalled Rs 1.65 lakh crore, he cracked jokes about it and indulged in tall talk against it.
"But, when he realised that people of Bihar, who have sharp intelligence, have seen through his game and did not pay any serious attention, he (Kumar) changed tack. He used the same issue for which he was abusing me (special package) and came out with a vision of development of Rs 2.7 lakh crore to be implemented over five years," he said.
Modi said Kumar had "cheated" the people with the package he announed last week, insisting it was merely the sum of Bihar's annual budgets of Rs 50 to 55 thousand crore each year over the next five years, which includes central assistance.
"This is an attempt to befool the people of Bihar. This is an attempt cheat them. They should realise no one can befool the people of Bihar," Modi said.
Contrasting it with the package announced by him, Modi said the development proposals worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore promised by the Centre was beyond the around Rs 3.75 lakh crore rupees that the state would get towards its annual budget from the Finance Commission.
"It needs to be asked where will the rest of Rs 1.76 lakh crore will go if the state only gives Rs 2.7 lakh crore. Will it go the fodder scam way," Modi said, taking a jibe at RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who has been convicted in the fodder scam and barred from contesting elections.
Under fierce attack for his DNA jibe against Kumar, which his rivals have sought to turn into a potent electoral weapon to stoke strong emotions of Bihari pride, the Prime Minister sought to make amends, calling Biharis the "most intelligent" people.
Two days after the leaders of the newly-formed Secular Alliance, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, besides Kumar and Lalu assailed him over the DNA remark at their 'Swabhiman Rally', Modi lavished praise on the people of the state, noting "most intelligent people live in Bihar".
Modi's Parivartan Rally, which was earlier scheduled to be held on August 30, was deferred for today as it clashed with the Secular Alliance's Swabhiman Rally.
While unsparing in attacking Kumar for announcing his own package to rival the one announced by him, Modi, however, said he was happy for having been able to make development a major election plank.
"They ridiculed my package but realised in two-three days that people have seen through their game. So they were forced to announce their own development package. I am very happy that development has become a poll issue in Bihar," he said.
Poking fun at secular allaince leaders for targeting him at their Patna rally, Modi said, "I was surprised at their 'Modi, Modi' chant. Youths do chant Modi! Modi! at NDA rallies or when I go abroad but I was surprised to see them do the same."
"Not only Bihar but the entire country was disappointed that instead of giving their vision as to how they plan to take Bihar forward on the path of development these leaders indulged in Modi bashing.
"Instead of giving an account of work done in the past 25 year in Bihar during RJD and Nitish Kumar's rule, these leaders have been only targeting me, completely forgetting that these elections are for Bihar Vidhan Sabha to elect a government which can take the state forward," he said.
Modi said he will account for every paisa spent by his government in the next Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
The Prime Minister described the Swabhiman Rally as 'Tilanjali sabha' (an oblation performed by Hindus with handful of water and sesame seeds offered to the deceased, signifying cutting of worldly ties with them).
"Those who once sang revolutionary songs holding the fingers of Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan paid 'Tilanjali' to him by sitting with Congress which had sent him to jail. JP died after coming out of prison," he said, targeting Kumar and Lalu, who began their political career with the JP movement in 1974.
"These people forgot the legacy of their mentors like Rammanohar Lohia, Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan and Karpoori Thakur when they sat with the Congress, which these leaders fought all their lives," he said.
He exhorted the electorate of Bihar to give 'Tilanjali' to such people by voting them out.
On being taunted by his rivals for remembering Bihar after 14 months, Modi said he had sent an expert team from Delhi and constantly monitored the situation to prevent floods in the riverine areas of the Kosi belt after landslides in Nepal last year.
"Likewise, during the earthquake in Nepal and in Bihar, I spoke to the Chief Minister (Kumar) who said he was in Delhi and was not aware of it. I talked to officials and my partymen in all (Bihar) districts and directed them to provide succour to the needy," he said.
Modi said he was the first to telephone Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was then the chief minister, and offered help after the stampede in Patna on Vijaydashmi day.
"For the person who has never forgotten Bihar where is the question of remembering it after 14 months?" he asked.
Attacking Kumar over his government's performance in the health sector, Modi said the number of community health centres in the country increased from 3300 to 5300 from 2005 to 2014. In Rajasthan it increased from 326 to 567 during the period, in Madhya Pradesh from 229 to 334 and in Chhattisgarh from 116 to 157. All these states are ruled by BJP.
But, in Bihar, the number of CHCs decreased to 70 from 101 during the period as the state failed to spend Rs 521 crore the Centre made available to it for improving healthcare.
After his government allowed the contentious land ordinance to lapse last night and brought an order instead to ensure that benefits of land law accrue to farmers whose parcels are acquired under 13 other central laws, Modi sought votes to form "a government for farmers' welfare" in Bihar and rubbished the pro-farmer pitch made by his rivals.
Modi said that for the first time in 25 years, Bihar will vote for development and acccused Kumar and Lalu of spreading "poison of casteism and communalism".
He said despite the Centre seeking names of Bihar districts in May for categorising them as backward areas for extending central concessions for greater investments, the state had furnished it only at the end of August.
"No matter how many parties and leaders come together against us and spread misinformation nothing will work as people have made up their mind to vote NDA to power," he said.