(Adding detail) Patna, Oct 26 (PTI) RJD leader Tejaswhi Yadav courted a controversy on Monday when he said the poor used to walk before 'Babu Saheb', a term used to refer to upper caste Rajputs in Bihar, with their head held high when Lalu Prasad was in power.
The assertion led TV channels to draw a parallel between his comment and his father Lalu Prasad's hugely-panned 'BHURA baal saaf karo' remark.
BHURA was considered a crass reference to the upper caste Brahmin, Bhumihar, Rajput and Kayastha communities in a Mandalised Bihar.
The chief ministerial face of the opposition Grand Alliance, however, quickly made amends, realising the fallout his statement could have in the election.
He hastened to add he will take everybody along and treat people on merit.
Addressing a rally in Rohtas on the last day of campaigning for the first phase of the assembly polls, Tejashwi said, 'Jab Lalu Yadav ka raj tha, tab gareeb seena taan ke Babu Saheb ke samne chalte the. Lekin hum sab logon ko sath le ke chlenge. Jo karmchaari kam karenge unhein samman diya jayega, jo apraadh karenge unhein saja di jayegi.
'When Lalu Yadav was in power, the poor used to walk before 'Babu Saheb' with their head held high. However, we will take everybody along. Employees working honestly will be rewarded and those indulging in wrongdoing punished,' he asserted.
His comments triggered angry reactions from political rivals who slammed him for the 'casteist remarks'.
BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi tweeted a video in which he said, 'The RJD has made an objectionable remark against forward castes in its rally at Rohtas. The RJD had also opposed the 10 per cent reservation for upper caste poor.' 'Their politics has been about eliminating Bhu-Ra-Ba-L (an acronym used for upper castes -- Bhumihar, Rajput, Brahmin and Kayasth, the last often being referred to as Lala in the state). They again want to divide Bihar on the basis of caste,' he alleged.
Sushil Modi also mentioned how the veteran socialist leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh was 'humiliated' in Lalu Prasad's party forcing him to quit the RJD before his death last month.
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh belonged to Rajput caste.
JD(U) spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan Prasad also accused Tejashwi Yadav of promoting casteist politics.
Sushil Modi released another video in which senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui is heard telling him (Sushil Modi) that 'while the NDA has the guarantee to return to power for another five years there is no similar certainity for his party.' Sushil Modi claimed in the video that Siddiqui made the comment during the one-day monsoon session of the assembly held at Gyan Bhawan in Patna in July amid COVID pandemic.
Facing widespread criticism, RJD national spokesman and Rajya Sabha member Manoj Jha said Tejashwi was talking about 'babus' (officials) in the government departments.
'The spin doctors in the NDA are trying to give a casteist colour to his statement for political purposes,' Jha added. PTI DR TIR SK SNS SNS