RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Tuesday hit out at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for returning the aid for Kosi floods given by Gujarat, saying it had hurt Bihar's image and dubbed his show of anger against Narendra Modi as a "stunt" to befool minorities with an eye on upcoming polls.
Describing Kumar and Modi as "bhai bhai" (brothers), Prasad questioned why the Bihar Chief Minister did not show his anger and part ways with BJP all these years if he was really upset over the 2002 Gujarat riots.
"The show of differences between BJP and JD-U is nothing more than a stunt in view of polls. It is a mock fight to befool minorities," Prasad told PTI in an interview as the ruling coalition partners appeared to be fighting following Kumar's snub to Modi over a week ago. Referring to Kumar's act of returning Rs 5 crore given by Gujarat as relief for Kosi flood victims, the RJD leader said it was a "cheap" decision.
"It has hurt Bihar's image. The aid money did not belong to Narendra Modi but people of Gujarat. It has been a custom in our country to help others in hour of distress," he said.
"Narendra Modi had also sent two train loads of relief materials for the Kosi flood victims, which was received in the state by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. Kumar should explain where that relief material went. He should say whether or not it was distributed to victims," he said.
In this context, he noted that the RJD government led by Rabri Devi had also sent relief worth crores of rupees to the earthquake victims of Bhuj in Gujarat in year 2000.
Insisting that he was not concerned whether BJP and JD-U part ways or remain together, the RJD chief, however, took a dig at BJP saying it was "power hungry" and wanted to stick to JD-U even at the cost of its "self-esteem".
"Nitish Kumar literally snatched the plate from them after serving the food. Had BJP any self-esteem left in it, it could have snapped ties with JD-U immediately after the cancellation of the dinner," he said.
Prasad was referring to cancellation of dinner by Kumar for BJP leaders who had gathered in Patna for their National Executive on June 12 as he was upset over publication of an advertisement showing him with Modi. The RJD leader said Kumar "suddenly started attacking Modi ahead of the Assembly elections because his proximity to Modi was exposed to the people of Bihar when the poster showing them holding hands appeared in local newspapers. He reacted because he was caught red-handed and he now fears losing Muslim votes."
Assembly polls in Bihar are scheduled before November.
The RJD chief, whose party ruled the state for three successive terms till 2005, also attacked Kumar over his role as Railway Minister in the NDA government at the Centre during the incident involving the Sabarmati Express at Godhra on February 27, 2002, which led to communal riots in Gujarat.
"Nitish Kumar was Railway Minister at that time and he did not open his mouth even once. He tried to save Modi. The Sabarmati train incident was later probed properly when I became Railway Minister," Prasad said. PTI