Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar – whom he did not name – Wednesday over his comments about the role of women’s education in population control. At a campaign rally in Madhya Pradesh’s Guna, the PM referred to “a prominent leader of INDI alliance (the 28-member INDIA opposition bloc)” who had used “indecent language (shamelessly) in the Assembly”.
“… prominent leader of INDI alliance used indecent language in the Assembly shamelessly. Not a single INDI alliance leader is speaking (against) it. How low will they stoop… and bring shame to the country.”
“Those who watch TV will have seen yesterday… this ghamandiya (arrogant) alliance… this big leader of the INDI alliance used shameful language in the Assembly, where there were mothers and sisters, without any shame. Can such people work for you? Should you respect them?” the PM asked.
Over the course of the day multiple BJP leaders have ripped into Nitish Kumar – once an ally – for the “vulgar” comments about the role of women’s education in population control; news agency ANI shared visuals of a mob outside Delhi’s Bihar Bhawan with placards and effigies of the Chief Minister.
The BJP has also urged the people of Bihar to recall the Chief Minister’s remarks when voting for the 2024 Lok Sabha election; the state has a not insignificant 40 seats and most of these were split between the BJP and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), which quit its alliance last year.
Eager to capitalise on Nitish Kumar’s crass words, ahead of elections in five states this month and next year’s general election, the BJP has dismissed his apology and demanded his resignation. And, like the Prime Minister, they have also attacked INDIA leaders, including ex-Congress boss Sonia Gandhi.
Union Minister Nityanand Rai – a Lok Sabha MP from Bihar’s Ujiarpur – said Nitish Kumar had lost his “mental stability”. He also attacked his deputy, Tejashwi Yadav, for defending the statement.
Nitish Kumar was also attacked by the BJP’s Aparna Yadav, who is the daughter-in-law of the late Mulayam Singh Yadav, the patriarch of the Samajwadi Party. “First of all… being a woman I am angry. I don’t think he should have said this… This kind of statement is shameful for the country…”
#WATCH | Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh: On Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s statement on population control, BJP leader Aparna Yadav says, “First of all, being a woman, I am angry at the statement. I don’t think he should have made this statement… This kind of statement by Bihar’s CM is really… pic.twitter.com/gEEqrOvEuS
— ANI UP/Uttarakhand (@ANINewsUP) November 8, 2023
Her words were echoed by Vijay Kumar Sinha, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly. Mr Sinha said, “His statements shame women. The country saw how he embarrassed women… (he) has lost his memory… should resign… is no more worthy of sitting in Assembly…”
Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari said he had “lost respect” for the veteran politician.
“I have known Nitish Kumar since 2004. However, after listening to the statement, I have lost respect for him. How can a person say this… Nitish Kumar, after this statement seems, a gone case…”
#WATCH | BJP MP Manoj Tiwari says, “I have known Nitish Kumar since 2004. However, after listening to the statement, I have lost respect for him. How can a person say something like this on the floor of the state Assembly?… Nitish Kumar after this statement seems like a gone… pic.twitter.com/TlaPSRKjsZ
— ANI (@ANI) November 8, 2023
BJP leaders from southern states were also quick to pounce on Nitish Kumar.
The party’s Tamil Nadu boss, K Annamalai, attacked the Bihar leader for “obscene comments… about our mothers and sisters”, and also took a two-for-one swipe at his state rival – the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. “… very unfortunately, Nitish Kumar, after joining INDIA (group) is speaking the language of DMK party… DMK party generally uses these words, this language…” he said.
#WATCH | On Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s statement on population control, Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai says, “We condemn it. A senior leader, like Nitish Kumar, has spoken about our mothers and sisters in a way that is very obscene, and we can call this totally cringe-worthy.… pic.twitter.com/9G4EPNj4ce
— ANI (@ANI) November 8, 2023
Actor-politician Khushbu Sundar also slammed Nitish Kumar and demanded to know why women leaders in the INDIA bloc were still silent. “It is extremely disgraceful and appalling… what has happened to Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee? These women are quiet.”
#WATCH | BJP leader and actor-turned-politician Khushbu Sundar slams Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on his derogatory remarks on population control made in the Legislative Assembly
“It’s extremely disgraceful and appalling to see the CM of Bihar making such statements in the… pic.twitter.com/0tBwbJZk7V
— ANI (@ANI) November 8, 2023
“(Is) this the INDIA they are talking about? They should say Nitish Kumar should apologise…”
Nitish Kumar’s remark has also been criticised (relatively mildly) by AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who reminded the Bihar leader “the Legislative Assembly is a sacred place”.
Earlier today Nitish Kumar, waylaid by reporters as he tried to enter the Bihar Assembly, said, “I take back my words if anyone (was) hurt”. (My words) were not intended to hurt anybody.”
The remark in question was made Tuesday during a debate on the contentious caste survey.
Based on the report, Nitish Kumar’s government has passed a proposal to raise quotas for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and OBCs and EBCs – from the existing 50 per cent to 65 per cent.
The revised quotas – to which the centre’s 10 per cent for Economically Weaker Sections must be added – will take reservations past the 50 per cent cap ordered by the Supreme Court in 1992.
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With input from agencies