Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav has alleged that the National Human Rights Commission's action in the Saran hooch case was part of a "propaganda" carried out to "defame" the Nitish Kumar government at the BJP's behest.
The state government has confirmed 38 deaths in Saran making it the biggest hooch tragedy in the state since it went dry in April 2016. The figure has been hotly contested by the BJP which has claimed that more than 100 people have died.
Yadav, who also holds the health portfolio, was asked by reporters about the Saran visit of a team of the NHRC which had last week slapped the government with a notice after the deaths caused by spurious liquor consumption.
"The BJP is scared at the pace we are working towards fulfilling the promise of providing 10 lakh jobs. Today itself, the cabinet has approved recruitment of more than 75,000 personnel in the home department," Yadav said after a department function late on Tuesday evening.
Shortly, 1.5 lakh posts in the health department and another two lakh in the education department will also be filled up, he said.
"A propaganda is underway to defame this government. I wonder whether the NHRC delegates have come on their own accord or they have been sent by those pulling the strings.
"Why did the Commission never care to visit Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, where more hooch deaths have taken place than in Bihar by the Centre’s own admission in Parliament?" asked Yadav.
He said he was not sure whether the NHRC has the mandate to take suo motu cognisance of matters such as hooch tragedies in a state.
"But if it does have the mandate, it should show similar enthusiasm in other states too," added the RJD leader, whose party MP Manoj Jha has written a letter to the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman complaining of the "partisan" attitude of the Commission.
The BJP had disrupted the five-day winter session of the state assembly that ended on Monday demanding compensation to the family members of the deceased.
The state government has turned down the demand stating that since consumption of alcohol was banned in Bihar, those who had died were guilty of committing an illegal act.
The BJP, which lost power in the state in August after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's exit from the NDA, has announced that it will stage a demonstration on the Vidhan Sabha premises on Wednesday in protest against the "bias" shown by the Chair towards the ruling alliance whenever the opposition party tried to raise its voice.
Meanwhile, the saffron party also took potshots at Yadav over an RJD MLC having been caught on camera saying that the young Deputy CM was fond of liquor and would do away with prohibition if he were to form a government on his own.
At a press conference, Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Council Samrat Chaudhary demanded that the CM take action against his deputy in the wake of the “sting operation” of RJD MLC Rambali Singh Chandravanshi.
Yadav, in his speech at the function, alluded to the affair with the remark: "Sting operations are going on. I am not going to stop anybody from carrying out these. I know that the agenda is set at another level."