In a stinging attack on the opposition RJD in poll-bound Bihar, Union minister Smriti Irani on Saturday asserted that "riches acquired through the fodder scam" will find no takers among the self-respecting people of the state.
The firebrand BJP leader, who addressed her first couple of rallies in the state, also invoked the imagery of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, and remarked that people knew "she comes carrying the lotus and not the lantern", an obvious allusion to the poll symbols of BJP and the RJD respectively.
"When the self-respecting people of Bihar pray to Goddess Bhagwati, they seek the strength to earn their bread through hard work. They do not seek a share in wealth earned through chaara ghotala", said Irani, in an apparent reference to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad who is in Ranchi, serving sentences in fodder scam cases.
Prasads younger son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav, who has been named by the opposition Grand Alliance as its Chief Ministerial candidate, has been trying to woo the voters with his promise of 10 lakh permanent government jobs if the party came to power.
The ruling NDA in the state, which is battling anti-incumbency as well as a rebellion from the LJP headed by Chirag Paswan who has vowed to dislodge JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar from power, has been going all out to thwart the oppositions attempts to cash in on the situation.
"The people of Bihar know well enough the Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, does not come holding the hand of the Congress", Irani said referring to the poll symbol of the national party which is a junior partner of the RJD in Bihar.
"They are also wise enough to understand that Laxmi does not carry a lantern either. She always carries a lotus. So they are going to press the lotus button", said Irani.
She also charged the RJD with having presided over an "abduction raj", an indirect reference to allegations of the party maintaining close links with gangs involved in kidnapping for ransom while it was in power from 1990 to 2005.
The Union minister asserted that economic growth and people’s well-being was ensured in Bihar only after the RJD- Congress combine was ousted from power.
"They ruled Bihar for 15 years. The state’s annual budget stood at a meager Rs. 23,000 crore and the per capita income was a measly Rs 8,000. The NDA has spent just as much time in power and the budget has grown by nearly ten times and the per capita income has shot up to Rs 40,000", the Union minister said.
She also underscored that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, billions of rupees were disbursed among the country's poor without any leakage, "in contrast with the times when only 15 paise out of every rupee sent by the government could reach the people".
Irani's comment was in reference to a statement made by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The Union minister, who holds textiles and women and child development portfolios, also spoke about the Modi government's other pro-poor measures like free health insurance cover under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana and financial assistance to farmers under the Kisan Samman Yojana.