Gaya: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday attacked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his RJD ally Lalu Prasad, saying they together represented "jungle raj" and "poison" - and urged people to vote the BJP to power in the coming assembly elections.
Only a fortnight after he sparked a row with his "DNA" comment on Nitish Kumar, Modi launched another broadside against the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief at a rally here that drew thousands of supporters.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi (C), accompanied by politician Jitan Ram Manjhi, (2L), Telecom minister Ravishankar Prasad (3L) and Food and consumer affairs minister, Ram Vilas Paswan (L), waves to supporters at the 'Parivartan' rally in Gaya on August 9, 2015. Pic/ AFP
Both Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad hit back promptly.
The chief minister said Modi "has a habit of telling lies time and again". Lalu Prasad said the prime minister was staring at defeat in Bihar because he (Lalu) had joined hands with Nitish Kumar.
In his speech, Modi warned people that "jungle raj" would return to Bihar if Lalu Prasad returned to power in the company of Nitish Kumar.
"I do not know who is Bhujang Prasad and who is Chandan Kumar. I do not know who is having poison and who is serving it," Modi said, in reference to Lalu Prasad's pledge to drink poison to derail the BJP in Bihar.
Modi also said the RJD-JD-U alliance won't last long.
"You have suffered their arrogance, deceit and exploitation for the last 25 years. Do you want such a rule to continue for another five years?
"I am here to appeal to you to vote for us to develop Bihar."
The Bharatiya Janata Party veteran said "jungle raj-II" will return to Bihar if his party was not voted to power.
Modi linked the murder of a BJP worker in Patna a few days ago as a sign of the likely return of "jungle raj". He used the term "jungle raj" over a dozen times in his speech.
He blamed the 15 years of rule by Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi for Bihar's backwardness. "When they ruled the state, hardly any development took place."
Modi recalled describing the RJD as a "Rozana jungle raj ka darr" party. On Sunday, he said the JD-U stood for "Janata ka daman aur utpidan".
He promised that if the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance took power, Bihar will be out of the BIMARU tag.
"We will take Bihar out of BIMARU tag in the next five years by economic development like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan."
Modi also promised to develop Bodh Gaya, the birthplace of Buddhism, as a top tourist destination.
It was Modi's second public rally after one at Muzaffarpur last month when he kickstarted the BJP campaign.
Speaking in Patna, Nitish Kumar accused Modi of insulting Bihar and its people by calling it a 'BIMARU' or sick state.
"After insulting Biharis by questioning my DNA last month, Modi has again insulted Bihar and Biharis by terming it a BIMARU state," he told the media.
Nitish Kumar insisted that Bihar was no more a BIMARU state. "It is an open secret."
Experts once used to collectively describe undivided Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh as "BIMARU" states to denote their backwardness. That terminology is presently not widely accepted.
Nitish Kumar said Modi had in a way threatened people by asking them to vote for the BJP if they desired help from the central government. "What kind of cooperative federalism is this?"
Describing the BJP as "Badka Jhootha Party", he challenged Modi to prove his allegation that the JD-U had spent Rs.300 crore on the election campaign.
"He should prove it as he has a habit of telling lies time and again."