PATNA: Former Bihar chief minister and senior RJD leader Rabri Devi on Tuesday waded into a controversy by making a public statement about Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi that was widely seen to be intemperate and in bad taste.
In reply to a question from a television news channel journalist about Modi’s recent “invitation” to Kumar to join the NDA, an unusually fast-talking Rabri said: “Nitish Kumar ko aakar le jaayen Modijee. Le jaake apni behen se shadi kara dein,” (Let Sushil Kumar Modi come and take away Nitish Kumar and get him married with his sister).
The statement, aired repeatedly on TV news channels, drew instant condemnation from leaders cutting across political parties and various sections of society. RJD leaders, when asked about it, were left speechless. Rabri, who is the wife of RJD chief and former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad Yadav, is an MLC. She is also the mother of two current ministers in the Bihar government — deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav and health minister Tej Pratap Yadav.
Rabri, however, later described her controversial statement as one she had made in a “lighter vein” (majekiya lehze me), but it was after her original words had lent themselves to criticism by several leaders and a counter allegation by Sushil Kumar Modi. “Rabri Devi has simply cast aspersions on Nitish Kumar by this statement. Now it is up to Nitish Kumar to respond to such words of his ally,” said Sushil Kumar Modi. “Rabri Devi is infamous for making such irresponsible comments.
Earlier, when JD(U) and BJP were running an alliance government in Bihar and RJD was in Opposition, she had spoken in very bad taste about Nitish Kumar and JD(U) leader Lalan Singh,” he added. That previous comment by Rabri Devi had prompted Lalan Singh to file a defamation case against Devi. “But he (Lalan Singh) withdrew that case after he became a minister (in the government in alliance with RJD and Congress),” said Sushil Kumar Modi.
“Political leaders should be careful in their choice of words,” said Shyam Rajak, senior JD(U) leader. He was apparently being careful in his comment as RJD is JD(U)’s ruling ally and the biggest among the three parties in the grand alliance in Bihar.