PATNA: If any finger or hand is raised against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it should be chopped off - the threat has come from the ruling BJP's top leader in Bihar, Nityanand Rai. Responding to condemnation of his statement, the parliamentarian later dismissed it as a figure of speech.
Mr Rai, an MP from Bihar, was addressing a function in the presence of Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi on Monday when he made the comment while praising the Prime Minister.
Each citizen of the country, he said, should be proud that a "garib ka beta" PM Modi rose from humble beginnings to such heights.
"Unki ore uthne waali ungli ko, uthne waale haath ko...hum sub milke...ya to tod dein, zaroorat pari to kaat dein (Any finger or hand raised towards him, we all should together, either break it or if needed, chop it off)," he thundered, wagging his finger.
Mr Rai is unfazed by criticism of his apparent threat. "Only those who are anti-national and anti-poor will object to the statement. I said PM Modi is the messiah of the poor. Those who raise fingers at the poor and swabhimaani (self-respecting), they are raising it at the Prime Minister. He destroyed corruption, poverty, black money...What I said is a proverb...I mean that there is no space for such forces in the country."
On demands for his apology, the BJP leader said: "If people don't understand, they should try to...If they can't, what can I do? People threaten to bury people...what I said was not as bad as that."
The comment comes close to a huge controversy over a BJP leader in Haryana, Surajpal Amu, announcing a bounty of Rs. 10 crore for the heads of Padmavati actor Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali in the middle of protests against the film by Rajputs.
The BJP has demanded an explanation from Mr Amu, who says he gave the statement as a "Rajput" and not as someone who holds a post in the Bharatiya Janata Party.