Patna: RJD President Lalu Prasad's remark that the Bihar election is a fight between backward and forward castes has triggered a fresh war of words between the grand secular alliance and the NDA.
Kicking off his younger son Tejaswi Yadav's election campaign from Raghopur Assembly constituency on Sunday, Lalu Prasad said the election was a fight between backward castes and forward castes and gave a clarion call to members of Yadav caste and OBCs to rally behind the secular alliance.
Prasad's remark triggered exchanges among rival political groupings.
JD(U) spokesman Ajay Alok defended Prasad, saying he only meant to alert backward castes against the statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat who questioned the reservation policy.
The BJP-led NDA went hammer and tongs against Prasad's comment. Addressing an election rally at Arwal, senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi slammed Prasad for the caste comment.
Affirming that the NDA stood for development, he sarcastically said the quality roads that would be built by the future NDA government would be used both by forward and backward castes.
Yadav caste leaders in NDA were more vociferous in their attack, with Union Minister of State Ramkripal Yadav reminding Prasad that "it is not Bihar of 1990 but Bihar of 2015".
"Does Yadauvanshi mean you and your family?" asked Ramkripal Yadav as he castigated his former mentor.
Leader of Opposition Nand Kishore Yadav slammed Prasad for "instigating" caste tension in view of a sure defeat.
"Today's Yadav youths need computer education and laptop and are no more interested in Prasad's casteist appeal," he observed.
Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief Upendra Kushwaha assailed Prasad and said he was making the provocative appeal "as part of his survival bid."
He claimed that Nitish Kumar, who has been announced as grand secular alliance CM candidate, was merely a "mask" and the force behind the alliance was Lalu Prasad whose casteist remarks make it clear which way they wish to take the state.