RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav went into damage control mode Tuesday after his “Babu Saheb” remark triggered criticism, saying while he had used the term to highlight corruption of officials under the Nitish Kumar government his rivals were giving it a casteist spin. “I used the term for sarkari babus (government officials)…don’t we use the term ‘Sushasan Babu’, ‘SDO babu’, ‘badka babu’ (senior officials) and ‘chhotka babu’ (junior officials),” Tejashwi told reporters Tuesday, clarifying his remarks made at a poll rally Monday. While, the word ‘Sushasan Babu’, meaning the man propagating good governance, is used in the political circles in Bihar for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, other terms are used for officials in the secretariat and other government departments in the state.
The opposition chief ministerial candidate said he had made the remark to highlight that corruption was everywhere under the Nitish Kumar’s rule and people have to pay bribe even for getting a birth or death certificate.
The BJP and the JD(U) had slammed him on Monday and the remarks continued to draw criticism on Tuesday too. BJP leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh made a scathing attack on the young RJD leader, saying, “In the process of inheriting the political legacy of his father, Tejashwi has started speaking like Lalu Prasad, who had used ‘BHURA BAL SAAF KARO’ slur against the forward castes.” On the other hand, there is a leader like Prime Minister Narendra Modi who provided 10 per cent reservation to the poor among the forward castes, the BJP leader said.
Bihar JD(U) spokesman Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said, “Seeing his jobs card making no impact among people, Tejashwi is now playing the caste card by making such statements.”
Coming down heavily on the rivals, Yadav said they were trying to give a “casteist spin” on his comments out of fear of defeat in the polls. Addressing a rally in Rohtas on Monday, Tejashwi had said, “Jab Lalu Yadav ka raj tha, tab gareeb seena taan ke Babu Saheb ke samne chalte the. (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.
BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi had criticised the remarks last night itself in a tweet, saying, “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.
He had also dragged name of late Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who had quit the RJD before his death last month, to drive home his point.