Patna: Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai’s comment that any finger or hand raised at Prime Minister Narendra Modi ought to be “broken or chopped off” has triggered a controversy, following which the leader expressed regret and withdrew his remark today.
Describing the hardships Modi had faced in his childhood, Rai said at a function organised by the Kanu community a sub-caste of Vaishyas, yesterday, “He is the son of a poor man and he should be honoured. Any finger or hand raised at him should be either broken or chopped off.”
Questioned about his statement by reporters today, Rai, who is also the MP from Ujiarpur Lok Sabha seat in the state, said, “I used a ‘muhavra’ (idiom) to express my sentiments. My words were not to be taken literally. However, if it has caused any hurt, I express my deepest regret and withdraw my comment.”
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Health Minister Mangal Pandey were present when Rai made the controversial comment.
Both Sushil Modi and Pandey, in their speeches, stressed that the BJP treated every caste group with respect, including the Vaishyas who were numerically weak.
Sushil Modi also alleged that Lalu Prasad’s RJD was “anti-Vaishya” and that it had not given “a single ticket to a Kanu candidate” in the last Assembly election.
Rai’s comment drew severe criticism from opposition parties such as the Congress and the RJD.
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad took a swipe at the Bihar BJP chief, saying “how can the BJP speak about honour, something it does not have.”
Senior Congress leader Prem Chandra Mishra said, “As the state unit chief of a party and MP, he should realise that we are living in a democratic setup wherein such type of language is unacceptable.”
RJD spokesman Shakti Singh Yadav said, “Mughal emperor Shah Jahan is said to have got hands chopped off of the masons who built the Taj Mahal. Does the BJP leader believe he too represents an empire?”
Neeraj Kumar, a spokesman of the JD(U) which is the BJP’s coalition partner in the state, said, “One should refrain from making such statement. However, now that Rai has withdrawn his comment, it should be treated as a closed chapter.”