Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar alleged on Tuesday that opposition RJD was trying to foment social strife in the state with the claim that its jailed president Lalu Prasad has been "framed", though he was serving sentences in fodder scam cases as per court orders.
Addressing a rally here in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kumar took potshots at his arch rival for having written an "open letter" addressed to him the previous day and warned the people of the state, referring to the opposition party's poll symbol, "If by any chance they get success in elections, Bihar will be back to the lantern age."
"On the one hand is our development plank, our commitment to serving the people. On the other hand are those who are after power for the sake of pelf. They speak of the Constitution and the perceived threats to it. The Constitution provides that a person is held guilty for a charge by the court and awarded punishment," Kumar, who heads the JD(U), an NDA ally in Bihar, said without mentioning the opposition party or its leader by name.
"But they have been alleging 'phansaya gaya hai' (he has been framed). We cannot say anybody has been framed when he is convicted by a court of law. But they keep levelling the same allegation to foment social strife hoping that it would bring them electoral gains," the chief minister said.
"I was amused to read in newspapers today that he has written an open letter to me. I wonder how he could do that while in jail. Moreover, the way he has spoken about the lantern makes me warn the people of the state. Beware, if by any chance they get success in elections, Bihar will be back to the lantern age."
In his open letter, which was circulated among media personnel by the RJD, Prasad - who is in Ranchi - had taken exception to Kumar's repeated barbs using the metaphor of "lantern" and asserted that the lamp symbolised "the light of love and brotherhood" unlike the "arrow" - poll symbol of the JD(U) - which he rubbished as "a symbol of violence" which was outdated "in the present era of missiles".
"It has taken a lot of effort for us to pull Bihar out of the mess it was in and replace the lanterns with electric bulbs. It became possible only because we brought electricity to every nook and corner of the state. But if they succeed, they will undo all that," the JD(U) chief, who in alliance with the BJP ousted the RJD from power in 2005, said.
In a veiled dig at his predecessor Rabri Devi, the chief minister spoke of the various measures taken by his government for the uplift of women and said "these things never took place during the preceding regime even though the state was ruled by a woman".
After snapping the ties in 2013, Kumar had forged a short-lived alliance with Prasad after their parties were drubbed in the previous Lok Sabha polls. The grand alliance that thus came into existence, comprising also the Congress, won the Assembly polls in 2015 but the chief minister walked out of it in 2017 following corruption allegations against Prasad's younger son Tejashwi Yadav, who was then his deputy.
The BJP came out with its offer of support and the two parties joined hands again. At present, the coalition in Bihar also includes Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)