PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today reacted sharply to Mulayam Singh Yadav questioning his secular credentials over being with BJP for 12 years, asking whether the latter was "the Vice Chancellor of University of Secularism".
"Am I a research scholar and he (Mulayam) a Vice Chancellor of University of Secularism that I am asking for a certificate of secularism from him?" Nitish asked in a hard-hitting comment on the SP chief while speaking at a function of a private national TV channel here.
"I am a product of school of Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia and need no certificate on secularism from anybody," he said.
The JD(U) leader accused Mulayam of "ending all future possibilities of the coming together of Janata Parivar."
Mulayam's SP had walked out of the Janata Parivar in Bihar following differences over the number of seats given to it for the upcoming Assembly elections and reportedly over Nitish's 'tilt' towards Congress.
The party, which has negligible presence in Bihar, had been given five seats by the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance.
It has formed a third front with NCP, Janadhikar Party of Pappu Yadav, Samras Samaj Party (SSP) of former Union minister Nagmani, NPP (Nationalists Peoples Party) of former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma and Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP) of former Union minister Devendra Prasad Yadav to contest all 243 seats.
While Nitish was scathing in his remarks on the SP chief, RJD president Lalu Prasad was not so harsh but scoffed his challenge in Bihar polls.
"Anybody can contest election anywhere. But does his party have any standing in Bihar?...It's like RJD contesting 200 seats in Uttar Pradesh. Can it (SP) win even one MLA seat?" Prasad quipped.
Refraining from harsh comments on Mulayam, he described the SP patriarch as "an elderly samdhi". Prasad's daughter Raj Lakshmi is married to Mulayam's grand nephew and MP Tej Pratap Yadav.
"If he speaks more, I will give five dhotis hued in yellow colour to him," he said in a lighter vein.
Prasad said differences among kin was not new in politics.
"Earlier a dozen of my 'salas' (brothers-in-law) ran away from my fold. So what's big in it," he said referring to parting of brothers-in-law Sadhu Yadav and Subhas Yadav.
Asked about Tej Pratap Yadav's announcement to campaign for SP and against him in Bihar election, Prasad laughingly, said, "I have asked Teju (Tej Pratap) and daughter Raj Lakshmi to listen what Mulayam says and not us."