"Ask Your Father": Nitish Kumar's Latest Outburst At Tejashwi Yadav
Bihar Assembly Election: Nitish Kumar was addressing a rally in Begusarai district
The Bihar election is rapidly turning - if it hasn't already - into a free-for-all and no-holds-barred slugfest, with the latest personal attack delivered by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar - a veteran politician known for dignified speeches - at a rally in Begusarai district on Saturday afternoon.
In a scathing speech that referred (the reference was clear, if indirect) to the RJD's Tejashwi Yadav - the opposition alliance's chief ministerial candidate and his principal challenger - Nitish Kumar said "ask your father or mother if they (Mr Yadav's parents) made any schools or colleges when they had the chance... or kept on making ill-gotten profits".
"Other people got an opportunity to govern. What did they do? Was one school or college built? If you want to study today, ask your father or mother? Is there a school? Was a college built all this time?" Nitish Kumar asked people gathered at a meeting in Teghra constituency.
The "father or mother" reference was to Mr Yadav's parents - former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is currently in jail for a corruption scam - and Rabri Devi - a two-time Chief Minister whom Nitish Kumar seemed to dismiss as a puppet installed by Lalu Yadav after he was jailed.
"... governed, made ill-gotten money and went to jail... sat his wife down on the chair. This is what has been happening in Bihar. But today, in my government, if there is anyone who does anything wrong... any man who breaks the law... he will go straight inside (to jail)," Mr Kumar declared.
Mr Kumar had earlier said that if his government is voted back to power it would give girls passing their intermediate exams a sum of Rs 25,000. Girls passing their graduate exams would get Rs 50,000. His government is currently giving sums of Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively.
Nitish Kumar is bidding to become Chief Minister of Bihar for a fifth time
Caught in an increasingly acrimonious back-and-forth with Tejashwi Yadav (and a more icy stand-off with LJP chief Chirag Paswan) over recent weeks, Nitish Kumar also lashed out at people protesting against his party's candidate.
"... tumhara ilaj kar denge (we will correct your illness)," the Chief Minister, who seems to have been rattled by the unexpected popularity of Tejashwi Yadav - particularly his promise to provide 10 lakh government jobs - said.
The Bihar Chief Minister - who is bidding for a fifth term in the top job - has frequently but indirectly targeted Lalu Yadav in the run up to this election.
On Tuesday he sneered at his son's 10 lakh jobs promise and asked if he would use money from "the same scam for which you are in jail" to pay for their salaries.
Tejashwi Yadav, however, hasn't taken the attacks lying down. The 31-year-old RJD leader ridiculed the Chief Minister for being "physically and mentally tired" and pointed to "60 scams on his watch".
"He spent Rs 500 crore to brighten his face in ads. Then he makes this laughable comment about where's the money to give jobs," Mr Yadav declared.
Unemployment and education have become major issues in this election, with Nitish Kumar targeted on each count. Bihar votes for a new 243-member Assembly in three phases starting October 28, with results due November 10.