Stepping up his attack on the Grand Alliance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday alleged that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his RJD ally Lalu Prasad were “conspiring” to snatch 5 per cent each from the quota meant for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and EBCs and “give it to another community”.
He did not specify the “community”, but said he would “risk his life to protect reservation” for weaker sections.
Modi’s comments drew a sharp reaction from the opposition, with Nitish calling his claims “nonsense” and the Congress saying it was an attempt to trigger “communal polarisation”.
At a well-attended rally in Buxar, not far from his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi, Modi also reiterated that there was a cap of 50 per cent on reservation. “When Babasaheb Ambedkar and others were discussing reservation, they decided it must not be given on the basis of community. When political leaders had starting promising extra reservation during polls, the Supreme Court put a cap of 50 per cent on it,” he said.
“Laluji, Nitishji kya karne ja rahe hai? Pichhdi aur ati pichhdi jaati ke saath. Paanch per cent reservation cheenne ja rahe hain. Paanch per cent Dalit ka, paanch per cent Mahadalit ka, paanch per cent pichhdi aur paanch per cent ati pichhdi jaati ka. Usse nikalkar dusre sampraday ke logon ko dene ka shadyantra chal raha hai. Mein ati pichhdi, Mahadaliton ko kehna chahta hoon aapka rattibhar aarakshan ko nahi le sakta. Aapke aarakshan ki suraksha ke liye, Modi jaan ki baazi laga dega. Inko khula karna meri jimmewari hai (What do Lalu and Nitish want to do with the OBC and EBC? They want to snatch 5 per cent reservation. Five per cent from the Dalit, 5 per cent from the Mahadalit, 5 per cent from the OBC and 5 per cent from the EBC. They are conspiring to give it to another community. I want to assure the EBCs and the Mahadalits that nobody can even take a fraction of your quota. Modi will bet his life to protect reservation. To expose them is my responsibility),” he added.
The Shahabad region, where Buxar falls, is considered a BJP stronghold.
Modi said both Lalu and Nitish were preoccupied with attacking him instead of talking about development in the state. “They meet each other and give accounts of criticism hurled at me. The next day, Lalu tries to outdo Nitish in attacking me. But Bihar voters have great political understanding,” Modi said during his 40-minute speech.
Modi also targeted the Grand Alliance over its candidates allegedly getting caught on camera accepting money. “They have not formed the government but have started saudebazi… Will you allow them to sell Bihar? They will protect criminals. We have to stop this game in Bihar,” he said.
He added, “Nitish has been promising to distribute computers but he should know that they are infected by the Lalu virus, which stands for kidnapping, oppression and crime. Do you want such computers?”
“Lalu should remember that it is not the Bihar of 1990. It is the Bihar of the 21st century. The state is now in the hands of the youth. Have Lalu and Nitish done enough for the youth in the last 25 years? Such people should be wiped out. Chun chun ke saaf karna chahiye,” he said.
Attacking the Congress and “madam”, Modi said that nobody talked about the Congress in Bihar, but one should ask the party what it did during 35 years of its rule in the state, and why Bihar youth were forced to migrate to Haryana, Punjab and other states and live in slums.
Talking to reporters later, Nitish said, “There is no fact in the PM’s allegation of us plotting to take away 5 per cent reservation from SC, ST and OBC to give it to a particular community.”
Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said, “The Prime Minister is habitual (sic) when it comes to attempts at communal polarisation during elections.”