What the fish! Tejashwi Yadav's meal on helicopter snowballs into major political controversy

The RJD leader asks PM to speak on what he did for people of Bihar

INDIA-ELECTION/MODI Narendra Modi | Reuters

A recent video of former Bihar deputy chief minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav eating fish in a helicopter seems to have become a political weapon for the BJP to target opposition as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday, compared the mindset of the Congress and its allies with that of the Mughals.

Addressing a poll rally in Jammu & Kashmir's Udhampur, Modi launched a fresh attack against the opposition comparing them to Mughals, who he said used to derive pleasure from vandalising temples, and accused them of teasing the majority community by displaying videos of consuming meat during the month of Sawan to consolidate their vote banks.

On some leaders consuming meat in the month of Sawan and making a video of the same go viral, he said, "In the month of Sawan, they went to the house of a person who was handed a punishment by a court and is on bail and cherished the taste of mutton. They made a video of it to tease the people of the country."

"During the month of Sawan, a person who was convicted, who is on bail, someone went to this kind of a criminal. During Sawan, they enjoyed eating mutton. Not just this, they made a video and worked to tease the people of India," he said, referring to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's visit to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad's house.

Modi said neither any law nor him prevents anyone from eating anything. "Everyone is free to eat vegetarian or non-vegetarian food. But they had different intentions. The Mughals used to get satisfaction by vandalising temples, not by defeating kings. They used to derive pleasure out of it.

"Likewise, they tease the people of the country by releasing such videos in the month of Sawan and consolidate their vote banks," Modi alleged.

He said during Navratri, eating non-vegetarian food and highlighting it hurt the feelings of people. "These people will resort to abusing me and targeting me for saying this. But when it is beyond the point of tolerance, it is my duty in a democracy to tell the right things to people. That is my job. I am fulfilling my duty," he said.

He claimed that these leaders are deliberately indulging in such acts "so that a big section of people gets annoyed".

"They have a Mughal mindset. They do not know that when the public gives a fitting reply, the princes of big dynasties get sidelined. Dynastic parties and corruption-ridden people should not be given opportunities," he said.

Tejashwi Yadav responds

Responding to Modi's comments, the RJD leader asked the prime minister to speak on what he did for the people of Bihar.

"I have been speaking about jobs, about employment, about inflation for long. He doesn't give an account for that. PM can say anything he wants but the public wants to hear what he did for the people of Bihar."

We are demanding an account of things that they did for Bihar in 10 years, he said.

RJD MP Manoj Jha RJD MP Manoj Jha too reacted to Modi's remarks by asking, how can a prime minister fall prey to the "trap. "What is happening to you PM? Your state-level leaders fell prey to the trap, but you too? It's a tweet from (April) 8th, no relation to Navratri. Tejashwi Yadav has been talking about jobs, why are you silent there," he asked.

Congress calls it diversionary tactic

The Congress also accused the prime minister of trying to find a new diversion every day.

Party general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the prime minister's non-stop politicking is infantile and tiresome and claimed that the BJP is lagging behind in the polls as it was yet to put together its manifesto while the Congress has already declared one and is reaching out to the people.

"Unlike the prime minister, we have not tracked which leader ate what in which month. Here are the nutrition data points that we are tracking instead," Ramesh said in a post on X.

He said anaemia is caused by several factors, including iron deficiency, inadequate diet and other nutrient deficiencies. Between 2015-16 and 2019-21, anaemia in children under five increased by nearly 10 percentage points, he said, adding that among women aged 15 to 19, the prevalence of anaemia increased by 9.2 per cent.

In Modi's home state of Gujarat, a shocking eight out of ten children under five were found to be anaemic, he said.

"A Rs 4000-crore scheme to include breakfast for school-going children in the mid-day meal programme was vetoed by the finance ministry due to a lack of funds," he alleged.

Ramesh said the Global Health Indicator (GHI) report shows India's child wasting rate at 18.7 per cent, the highest among countries on its index. The child stunting rate is 35.5 per cent, the 15th highest in the world, he said, adding that malnutrition remains widespread under the Modi 'Sarkar', and has even gotten worse according to several data indicators.

"Every day the prime minister provides us with a new example of his sick mindset. The prime minister's non-stop politicking is infantile and tiresome. A week before the first phase of polls, the BJP has barely put together a manifesto committee," he said.

The controversy

The video, shared by Yadav on April 9, the first day of Navratri, showed him dining with Mukesh Sahni, chief of the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), while flying in a helicopter.

In the clip, Prasad and Sahni were seen having fish and roti, with Prasad explaining that he eats quickly during election campaigns.

Sahni also made a jibe at their opponents by holding up a chili, suggesting they might feel "burned" after watching the video.

After the video attracted criticism, the RJD leader said the footage was shot before the week-long festivities began and he has "succeeded in exposing the low IQ" of his detractors.

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