Patna, Nov 29 Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad today traded barbs, questioning each other's "desh bhakti" (patriotism).
The war of words was set off following a tweet from Kumar, taking an obvious dig at Prasad in the wake of the Centre recently downgrading the latter's 'Z+' security cover to 'Z' category.
"Jaan, maal aur mall ki chinta sabse badi desh bhakti hai (concern about one's own life and property is the biggest example of patriotism)," Kumar said in the tweet laced with sarcasm.
The JD(U) president's jibe followed a controversy arising out of Prasad's security being downgraded. The RJD leader's elder son, Tej Pratap Yadav, even threatened to "skin" Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the "conspiracy".
Not to take Kumar's "desh bhakti" (patriotism) barb lightly, Prasad launched a sharp counter-attack against him by posting a series of messages on Twitter, using certain words which smelt foul.
"Bihar ke 'thesis chor' desh bhakt mukhya mantri bataye ki unhone 20 hazaar rupaiya cheque me diya, RTGS kiya athwa cash me ada kiya (the patriotic Bihar CM, accused of stealing a thesis, should tell whether he paid the penalty of Rs 20,000 by cheque, RTGS or cash)," the RJD chief said.
The comment was in reference to a Delhi High Court judgment passed earlier this year, which had dismissed Kumar's plea to delete his name as a defendant from a lawsuit on copyright violation, filed by a former JNU scholar-turned- politician, and imposed a cost of Rs 20,000 on him.
In the lawsuit, the former JNU student had alleged that a book published by the Patna-based Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), through its Member Secretary Shaibal Gupta, and endorsed by Kumar, was a plagiarised version of his research work.
"Bihar me desh ka eklauta aisa swayam ghoshit desh bhakt mukhya mantri hain jis par jaghanya hatya ka sangeen aarop hain. Kya desh ke kisi aur mukhya mantri par nirmam hatya ka case aur aise case ko chipane ka sahas hain (Bihar has the only self-proclaimed patriotic chief minister who is facing a murder charge. Is there any other CM who has been accused of murder and does any other CM have the courage to hide such a case)," he continued in his no holds barred attack.
The comment referred to Kumar's name figuring in a murder case of a Congress leader, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in the erstwhile Barh constituency in 1991.
The RJD chief also used his pet "pet mein daant" (teeth in stomach) jibe at Kumar to allege that he was being cunning in an another tweet and accused him of being the "murderer of mandate", in a reference to the JD(U) chief walking out of the erstwhile Grand Alliance government in Bihar and joining hands with the BJP.
Prasad has been making sharp comments against Kumar ever since the collapse of the Grand Alliance government, comprising the JD(U), RJD and Congress, in July.
Kumar subsequently joined hands with the BJP to form a coalition government in the state.
With power slipping out of the hands of the RJD, Prasad and his two sons -- Tej Pratap and Tejashwi -- have not been sparing any opportunity to hit out at Kumar.
The JD(U) chief's tweet on Prasad also drew a reaction from the Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, Tejashwi Yadav.
"There are so many things that the chief minister ought to be concerned about. A police personnel was killed by liquor smugglers in Samastipur two days ago. Journalists are being attacked. MLAs are getting extortion calls. One of our party workers has been threatened over phone by a spokesman of the ruling Janata Dal (United)," he told reporters outside the state Legislative Assembly.
He also claimed that the JD(U) and the BJP had hatched a "conspiracy" against him by lodging graft cases as an excuse to join hands to form the government in the state.