The BJP in Bihar on Sunday hit the roof over what it considered to be an "indecent remark" made by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during his speech on population growth, at a programme attended by a large number of women.
Kumar had on Saturday visited Vaishali district, along with cabinet colleagues including his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, on the third day of his state-wide 'Samadhan Yatra', aimed at assessing the status of ongoing welfare programmes and pending works.
While interacting with self-help group volunteers, Kumar had spoken about the role played by educated, empowered women in controlling population growth.
The JD(U) leader, who has been opposed to the BJP's pitch for a population control law, much to the annoyance of the former alliance partner, also hinted that men often did not show the same sense of responsibility as their wives in controlling population.
A small video clip of Kumar’s speech has gone viral in which the CM could be heard as having said "the men are often unmindful that they must not indulge themselves every day (mard log to roz roz karte hi rahta hai)".
Kumar's former deputy and an erstwhile loyalist Sushil Kumar Modi issued a strongly worded statement accusing his ex-boss of having used a language that befitted the streets ('sadak chhap').
"It seems Nitish Kumar has lost his decency ever since he joined hands with the RJD. In the assembly, he is often seen using the disrespectful pronoun tum (you) for political opponents. His 'jo piyega so marega' (whoever drinks shall be doomed to die) was the height of insensitivity displayed in the aftermath of hooch tragedies," alleged Modi.
State BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand, who is also the national general secretary of the party's OBC Morcha, said the remarks of the chief minister were "sexist".
"Of late, his words seem to be aimed at creating divisions in the society. Now, it looks like he wants to create tensions inside people's homes. He must retract his statement and issue an apology," Anand stated.
Former minister Samrat Chaudhary, who is the leader of the opposition in the legislative council, said "the utterances were unbecoming of a chief minister and can tarnish the reputation of the state".
Leaders of the ruling 'Mahagathbandhan' in the state, comprising JD(U), the deputy CM's RJD, Congress and the Left, seemed embarrassed to come on record over the controversy but, speaking on condition of anonymity, they insisted that the septugenarian chief minister was trying to create public awareness and the BJP was looking to gain political mileage out of a trifle.
Meanwhile, Kumar, the state's longest serving CM, remained unfazed by the hubbub when he visited Siwan on the fourth day of 'Samadhan Yatra'.
He reiterated the need for population control and underscored the role played by educated women in the same. He also reaffirmed his government's commitment to improving the condition of madarsas in the state.
-With PTI Input