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Gadkari hurls caste taunt

Patna, April 19: Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari today said casteism is in the DNA of Bihar politics.

Replying to a query as to why the state party leaders were projecting Narendra Modi as a leader hailing from the Extremely Backward Classes when the BJP is making a tough posturing against casteism and communalism, Gadkari said: The people of the state talk about the caste of a leader as it is in the DNA of Bihar. Casteism is deep-rooted here.

He, however, soon corrected himself saying he meant political DNA of Bihar. Modi never talked about his caste in his more than three decades of political career, he said adding that political parties and media were politicising the issue.

Other parties, however, reacted sharply to Gadkaris DNA remark. This is an anti-Bihari statement. This is against the sentiment of the people and also an insult to the state. Casteism and communalism form part of the BJPs DNA, as it is known for communal politics. The BJP made it known to everyone about Modis caste for its political gains, Bihar Congress vice-president Prem Chandra Mishra said.

JD(U) MLC and spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said: It is an attack on Bihars asmita (identity). There is poison in Gadkaris genes. BJP should get his genetic test conducted at Hyderabad. He should not visit Bihar till the test report comes.

Dal leader Rajiv Ranjan Prasad also criticised Gadkari for his remark that casteism is in the DNA of Bihar politics. Prasad said the Election Commission should take note of Gadkaris statement and take strict action against him. He appealed to the voters to take revenge by ensuring the defeat of its candidates in the elections.

RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari demanded from the BJP and its leader that Gadkari tender an unconditional apology to the people of the state. Politicians like Gadkari and leaders of the Shiv Sena and MNS indulge in abusive language against Biharis, he said.

Talking about JD(U) candidate Akhtarul Iman withdrawing from the battle of Kishanganj, the parliamentary constituency which constitutes 70 per cent of Muslim electorate, Gadkari said the Dal candidate must have withdrawn from the contest only with Nitishs consent.

Gadkari was flanked by Sushil Kumar Modi, C.P. Thakur, Nand Kishore Yadav, Mangal Pandey, Gopal Narayan Singh, Sudhir Sharma and Sanjay Mayukh. Media in-charge Ashok Bhatt and Rakesh Kumar Singh, who were present during the media interaction, said Gadkari would address election rallies in Sikti (Araria), Naugachhia (Bhagalpur) and Raniganj (Kishanganj) in Bihar.

Nitish has categorically stated that he would do anything to defeat the BJP and Narendra Modi, the former BJP president said and added: The withdrawal of the candidate may not have been possible without Nitishs consent. The move is dangerous for both Bihar and the country.

It was done in collusion with the Congress to benefit its candidate Asrarul Haque, he said terming the Congress, JD(U) and RJD as multi-communal parties, which flourish on caste and communal agenda bypassing development.

On the question as whether he as then party president gave any assurance to Nitish on the issue of deciding the name for the post of Prime Minister, Gadkari said: The matter was raised by Nitish in the presence of Arun Jaitley and myself. I had clearly told Nitish that no decision has been taken on any name for the PM yet, so dont take any decision in haste.

On whether there was any chance of the BJP entering in to a post-poll tie-up with the JD(U), Gadkari said there was no question of thinking on the issue now as the NDA would get full majority. Gadkari also took a jibe at Nitish when the electricity suddenly went off for four-five minutes in the midst of the news meet. He said: We, along with farmers, generate more power in Nagpur than Bihar. People from Bihar should visit Nagpur to see uninterrupted power supply in the areas.

He also said abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir would lead to huge investments in the state and lead to job opportunities.

He said Bihar has huge potential for green power generation based on rice-husk, biogas and others but leaders of the ruling party are indulging in caste and communal politics instead of concentrating on energy production.