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Irresponsible statements changed Bihar narrative: Jaitley

ARUN JAITELY

New Delhi: As BJP does soul searching for its humiliating defeat in Bihar polls, senior party leader Arun Jaitley today admitted “irresponsible statements” made during elections “changed the narrative”.

Jaitley also said incidents like Dadri lynching and the killing of rationalist M M Kalburgi in Karnataka were “aberrations” and “not the pattern” in India, and called for distinguishing between those committing such crimes and those just being “loose talkers”.

“During the period when the elections were being contested, some irresponsible statements did change the narrative. That is not expected from responsible (persons). I had repeatedly intervened in order to make sure that the narrative comes back.

“As far as plan is concerned, I think those may be incidental factors. How much they impacted on Bihar, I really do not know,” he said, attributing the NDA’s defeat mainly to the “huge index of opposition unity”.

While the ruling NDA managed to get 58 seats (BJP 53) in the 243-member Bihar assembly, JD(U)-RJD-Congress Mahagathbandhan secured 178 seats.

On whether Bihar election was a referendum on the policies of the Centre, Jaitley, said, “The word referendum is loosely used… Every election is not a referendum. A state election is not a referendum. You are not contesting on one issue.”

He further said the vote share of BJP has not come down and the victory of the Mahaghatbandhan was on account of different opposition forces coming together.

Amid a raging controversy on the intolerance issue, Jaitley said India is the “most tolerant” society in the world and it will “reject” any contention that “a stray incident happening in any part of India will make it intolerant.”

“India is tolerant. Some unfortunate incidents take place, but that do not make India an intolerant society. India is a liberal society. It will continue to remain one,” he said.

Downplaying questions about remarks of some Hindu hotheads, Jaitley said in a large political party, it is possible to pick up one or two people.

Acknowledging that they need to be careful about the comments they make, the Union Finance Minister said the media is also in the habit of chasing them.

“There is a perception of this government being decisive, being honest and of being on a development path. There are, as I said, aberrations, which take place where somebody makes a loose statement or some incident takes place in Karnataka, or in Dadri, which should never have taken place…Unfortunate incidents.

“But then those are aberrations in a large country like India. Those are not the pattern as far as India is concerned,” he said.