The opposition RJD in Bihar and the BJP, a partner in the states ruling coalition, on Tuesday sparred over feasibility of holding assembly polls by the end of November this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a press conference, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav accused the BJP and its senior ally JD(U) headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of being preoccupied with poll preparations unmindful of their duty, while in power, towards containing the spread of the coronavirus.
"I wonder why this government is in such a tearing hurry. It appears that Nitish Kumar is wary of the prospect that Presidents Rule could be imposed in the state if his tenure gets over", remarked Yadav, who is the leader of the opposition in the state assembly.
He was criticising the JD(U)-BJP combine for routinely holding virtual rallies whereby leaders of the respective parties have been interacting with workers spread across the state.
When asked about whether he thought it would be proper to hold elections in time in view of the rising incidence of the infection, he said "I think it would not be proper. The situation in the state is scary and the people have been left to fend for themselves in the face of the raging pandemic".
"The state government has failed to fill up vacant posts of doctors and paramedics and equip hospitals with adequate facilities. It seems to have adopted a strategy to deliberately keep the testing rate low so that we do not get an accurate idea of how many people have been infected," the former deputy CM said.
Yadav, who has been named by his party as its chief ministerial candidate, however, replied in the negative when asked whether he would like to urge the Election Commission to defer the polls.
"I do not wish to interfere in the EC's job. It should take a call on such matters. We do have some issues with the EC, though, and we have registered our objections," he said.
Yadav's remark was in reference to a letter written by RJD national spokesman and Rajya Sabha member Manoj Jha to the poll panel opposing the amendments whereby system of postal ballots has been extended to all those aged above 65.
Lashing out at Yadav, BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand said in a statement, "The RJD leader seems to have lost his nerves on account of the enormous goodwill earned by governments at the Center in Bihar for excellent handling of the pandemic".
The BJP spokesman charged that Yadav's utterances were tantamount to "interfering with the Election Commission's functioning" and asked the 30-year-old RJD leader to consult his seniors in the party before speaking on sensitive matters.