Patna, Feb 5: Bihar’s politicians and activists Wednesday slammed Gujarat Finance Minister Nitin Patel for his reported remarks that influx of Biharis was responsible for the poverty levels in Gujarat.
Leaders of the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Lok Janshakti Party, Congress and Left parties said the comment exposed “the real face” of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Patel reportedly said that the poverty figures in Gujarat had gone up because of the influx of immigrant labourers from Bihar, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
Bihar’s Food and Civil supply Minister Shyam Razak wanted to know how Modi hoped to lead the country by “insulting and humiliating millions of people of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh”.
“Patel’s statement is not only in bad taste, it is a dangerous move to incite hatred against Biharis,” he said.
Bihar Congress president Ashok Choudhary said Patel was targeting Biharis.
“It is an accepted fact that migrant workers have contributed to make Gujarat a developed state. It is wrong to say that Biharis have contributed to poverty in Gujarat.”
RJD leader Ram Kirpal Yadav said Patel’s statement against Biharis reflected Modi’s mindset.
Communist leader Rajendra Singh said every citizen of the country, from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, had a right to visit or earn livelihood in any state.
“How can Biharis contribute to poverty if Gujarat is propagated as a model of development?”
BJP leaders in Bihar refused to believe that the reported remark was made.
Patna-based economist Saibal Gupta said people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were not to blame for poverty in Gujarat.
He said if the migrant workers were provided the statutory minimum wages, they would not be in the poverty bracket.
RTI activist Mahendra Yadav said that without migrant workers, Gujarat’s industry would shut down.
“The Gujarat minister should be thankful for the cheap labour coming from Bihar instead of blaming the workers for poverty (in Gujarat),” he said.
Anish Ankur, a theatre activist, said Biharis only helped Gujarat and other states to develop.
“Instead of blaming Biharis for poverty in Gujarat, the Modi government should look into its so-called Gujarat model of development that is pro-corporate,” he said.