Prime Minister Narendra Modi waded into the debate over beef in the Bihar elections Thursday, accusing Lalu Prasad of insulting Yadavs with his comments about “what they eat”. Lalu had said that Hindus too, eat beef.
The PM addressed four rallies during the day. At the Begusarai helipad, he did not touch upon the lynching of a man in Greater Noida’s Dadri for allegedly consuming beef. He chose to hammer home a very specific electoral point.
“Look at how these netas are insulting Yaduvanshis,” he said. “Look at the kind of abuses they throw at you. Laluji, whatever you have become, it is because of the blessings of these Yaduvanshis. And you abuse them so much now? You come out with such claims about what they eat. I am ashamed even to talk about this. Please do not insult my people; I come from Krishna’s Dwarka.”
By taking Lalu’s comments about Hindus to mean Yadavs, his speech will be seen as reaching out to Yadavs, Lalu’s core vote-bank. “My brothers and sisters, I come from Gujarat. I was born there. And that land is considered Dwarka’s land; Sri Krishna’s Dwarka. Sri Krishna taught them their love for the cow. Even today, the people of Gujarat are devotees of the cow… Amul is a brand recognised all over the world,” he said.
Modi also mocked Lalu’s reported retraction of the statement on beef. The RJD leader is reported to have said that the devil had sat on his tongue. “Did Shaitaan find only that body to enter? He talks as if Shaitaan was an old friend visiting,” the PM ridiculed.
Lalu responded on Twitter, using the handle @laluprasadrjd. He denied having ever made the “Shaitaan” comment. “I challenge Modi to show me the devil comment and apologise immediately for calling all Biharis devils.” Lalu alleged Modi had effectively called all Dalits and backward castes devils.
Modi’s comments about Lalu and Yaduvanshis came 22 minutes into his speech in Begusarai. He focused on development initially: “I have come amidst you bearing the message of vikas raj.”
He ridiculed the JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance by calling it a maha swarthbandhan, a grand alliance of selfishness. “Those who ruled for 10 years claiming they would end jungle raj are back to bring it back,” Modi said, referring to CM Nitish Kumar. He called Nitish’s relationship with Prasad a big brother-little brother relationship: “Sometimes bada bhai calls chhota bhai a murderer, sometimes a parrot.”
The PM returned to Lalu later: “Take Laluji’s dialogues from 1990. Then compare it to his dialogues in 2015. The two are the same… There is only one thing new: he has brought in his children.”