Patna: Bihar BJP leaders' criticism of state government departments giving expensive gifts to legislators has put them in an awkward situation with only two party lawmakers returning their gifts so far.
Former deputy chief minister Sushil Modi promised on Saturday that he and two other BJP lawmakers would return the microwave ovens and other gifts they received on the moral ground that "lakhs" of school teachers in Bihar have not been paid their salaries.
So far, however, only Sushil Modi and BJP's state president Mangal Pandey have returned their gifts.
Prem Kumar, another legislator (and the leader of opposition in the assembly) who was also supposed to return the gifts, has not. The majority of BJP lawmakers seem to have no intention of doing so.
"We have been accepting the gifts for years as a part of a tradition during the Budget session of State Assembly. But this year suddenly (Sushil) Modi has played gift politics to hit headlines. We will not return gifts," a senior BJP legislator told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Another BJP legislator said: "If we return gifts, people will ask us why did we accept them in the first place."
The ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is also attacking the BJP.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav said: "Modi had been accepting gifts since the time he became a legislator and distributing gifts to legislators while he was Deputy Chief Minister. Has he forgotten all that?"
Tejaswi's mother and former chief minister Rabri Devi said Sushil Modi should return all the gifts he had accepted in the last 25 years.
The BJP has 53 legislators in the 243-member Legislative Assembly and over two dozen in the Legislative Council or the Upper House.
The education department gifted microwave ovens to members of both the houses.
Critics say public money is being spent on gifts for the legislators when thousands of government employees have not been paid their salaries for months.
Three CPI-ML legislators, however, did refuse to accept the gifts.