Patna: Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an "auction PM" and not "action PM" over the way he announced the Rs 1.25 lakh crore special package for Bihar, the Congress today said people will not tolerate such mockery of their self-respect.
"Modi is not an action PM, but an auction PM. He auctioned coal blocks and spectrum. Day before yesterday he put Bihar on the auction block and made fun of the state. The people of the state will not tolerate the mockery of their self-respect," senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters in Patna.
Mr Ramesh said the way Mr Modi kept asking the crowd about how much special package he should give was "like playing with the self-respect of the people of Bihar."
He asserted that 90 per cent of the projects included in the special package were either announced or saw the start of their implementation between 2011 and 2014, when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was at the Centre.
The Congress leader said the package was a poll-time repackaging of old schemes by the Prime Minister to avoid giving special category status to Bihar, and Congress feared that once Bihar Assembly elections get over, BJP president Amit Shah would declare it a political 'jumla' (saying) just like he said about the promises made by Mr Modi during the Lok Sabha polls to bring back black money and distribute among the people.
The former Union minister alleged that the BJP was talking about packages and development just to grab the headlines, but in reality was instigating communal polarisation ahead of the Bihar elections.
"BJP is employing the same strategy we noticed during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It is talking about development on the upper level from its helicopters, but is instigating communal polarisation at the ground level," he said.
Mr Ramesh, currently a Rajya Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh, said the forthcoming Bihar polls were important for the entire country as politics in India was at a very sensitive and delicate juncture.
"People need to understand that amid this communal polarisation started by BJP, the results of Bihar Assembly elections will have much impact on Indian politics for the next two to three years. This is a crucial time," he added.
The former Union Minister said Congress would contest 40 seats out of the total 243 in Bihar as part of the secular grand alliance with JD(U) and RJD.
"We will put up strong candidates at the 40 seats and will do everything to strengthen the grand alliance because we understand the crucial juncture at which the politics of our country is positioned at present," he said.
Congress would participate in the government if people vote the grand alliance to power, Ramesh said adding, the alliance government would work according to a Common Minimum Programme (CMP).
Mr Ramesh took potshots at the BJP and said its strategy showed as if Narendra Modi was going to be the chief minister and said, "A CM face is needed at the state-level to win polls. We have declared ours, but the BJP has 13 such candidates. Its strategy shows as if Modi is going to become Bihar CM."
Asked about why the Congress-led UPA government did not grant special category status to Bihar, he said the party had considered it, but could not take a final decision.
"There was a fear that if one state is granted such status, then the Pandora's Box will open and five or six more states will start pressing for it. 11 states including those in the Northeast, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have already been granted special category status," he said.
Mr Ramesh pointed out that though the UPA government did not succeed in providing such a status to Bihar, it ensured that special projects were approved for it.
"The Congress ensured that half of the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) for the entire country was given to Bihar.
All districts of the state were covered under it," he said.
Claiming victory of the Congress in its opposition of the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill moved by the Centre as six out of total nine important changes were taken back, Mr Ramesh said the Congress was in favour of the passage of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, but wanted four changes in its present form.