Patna: Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai has courted controversy for saying "if the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) wins the upcoming Assembly election in Bihar, Kashmiri militants will take shelter in the state" during an election rally.
Rai made the remark while addressing a rally in Vaishali's Mahanar constituency a couple of days ago.The matter came to light after news channels beamed the footage.
Rai's comment was much similar to the 2015 statement of a prominent BJP leader who had said "if Mahagathbandhan wins the election, crackers will be burst in Pakistan".
"The NDA government is eliminating militants from Kashmir but I have great apprehension about militants taking shelters in Bihar once the RJD government gains power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have given a responsibility to me, and we will not allow it to happen in Bihar," Rai, a senior BJP leader from Bihar, said.
"Our government has scrapped Articles 370 and 35A in Jammu & Kashmir. Our armed forces have strongly retorted against China recently," he said.
"When it comes to fighting other countries, our armed forces under the leadership of PM Modi is capable of doing it. When it comes to the fight within the country, PM Modi and Home Minister Shah get strength from you. I urge you to not let them down and vote for BJP and NDA." he said while addressing the people
The statement has became a reason for a political storm in poll-bound bihar.
The Congress, a constituent of the Grand Alliance, hit back against the statement.
AICC media panellist and Bihar MLC Prem Chandra Mishra reacrd that the BJP has the habit of dragging Pakistan and Kashmir into the scenario whenever it faces a tough challenge in Bihar polls.
Reacting on the militants remark, Chitranjan Gagan, the state spokesperson of RJD, said: "The statement given by Nityanand Rai is extremely shameful. What kind of language is he using at a political rally?
Gagan also asked Rai to apologise to the people of Bihar as Rai is holding the Minister of State for Home Affairs portfolio.
Giving stronger remarks, Gagan said that Rai does not have dignity for the post. Gagan added that the statement reflects Rai's petty mentality.
"BJP leaders are frustrated, and desperate to retain power in Bihar." he added
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, the Grand Alliance's chief ministerial candidate, sought to make light of the remarks made by Rai.
"It is a ploy of the saffron party to divert public attention from the "misrule" of the NDA" said Yadav before media at his Assembly constituency Raghopur and also in Vaishali where he had gone to file nomination papers.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U), which was in the Grand Alliance five years ago but is now back in the NDA, defended Rai saying that the Union minister has not said anything objectionable or out of context.
"Bihar has been rocked by terror strikes like the Gandhi Maidan blasts. A dreaded terrorist like Yasin Bhatkal was caught on its soil. The Darbhanga module was well known to security agencies,"said JD(U) leader Ajay Alok
"If law and order deteriorates in the state, as was the case when the RJD was in power here, the possibility of what Rai has spoken about cannot be ruled out," the JD(U) leader added
Meanwhile, Rai remained unfazed by the controversy and continued with his hard line while maintaining his cheerful countenance.
On Wednesday, he was in Hajipur, the district headquarters of Vaishali, where he addressed a rally and came down heavily on former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah for seeking revival of the Article 370 of the Constitution.
On August 5 last year, the government revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
"Farooq Abdullah has said he will seek China's support to bring back Article 370. Let it be known to him, no matter how hard he tries, 130 crore Indians will not allow any assault on national integrity," Rai told the gathering
(With inputs from IANS and PTI)