Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren's jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over their telephonic talks on COVID situation triggered political slugfest with the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday accusing Soren of lacking the basic courtesy expected of a person holding his office and lowering its dignity.
Congress, JMM's ally in the Jharkhand government, rallied behind Soren and said the PM should have heard the chief minister who was upset as he did not get the opportunity to speak on the issues the state is battling for want of adequate supplies of medicines and equipment to fight COVID more effectively.
"What wrong is done by Soren if he wanted to apprise the PM with the problems faced by the state," senior Congress leader and its Jharkhand in-charge R P N Singh asked.
Soren had on Thursday described Modi's phone call to him on the COVID-19 situation in the country as the PM's 'Mann Ki Baat', instead of business.
'Today the respected prime minister called. He only spoke his 'Mann Ki Baat'. It would have been better if he would have talked business and heard the issues,' the Jharkhand chief minister said in a tweet.
Official sources said Soren was unhappy as he was not allowed to present the issues concerning his state before Modi and instead, it was only the prime minister who talked about the COVID-19 situation.
Feeling offended over Soren's barb at the PM, the BJP went hammer and tongs on the Jharkhand chief minister.
Attacking the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader, BJP general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh reacted to his tweet, 'This is the level to which some politicians are stooping. PM calls & has detailed talk regarding COVID-19 crisis & this CM tweets so. Lacks minimum grace required for the position he holds.'
Union minister Arjun Munda lashed out at Soren, saying instead of expressing gratitude towards the PM for extending help as how to more effectively fight against the pandemic jointly you are criticising him.
"Prime Minister showed his 'badapan' (greatness) while you lowered your and chief ministerial post dignity," Munda, a former chief minister of Jharkhand told PTI.
BJP MP and party chief spokesperson Anil Baluni also targeted Soren, saying he has neither knowledge of the country's federal structure nor does he appreciate basic courtesy.
People should not suffer for your wrong policies, he said, adding that Soren may leave them to their fate but the Modi government is always with them.
Assam BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said Soren's tweet goes against the basic decorum and also mocks people's suffering as Modi had called up to enquire about them.
"You have behaved in a very petty way. You have lowered the dignity of the chief minister's chair," Sarma said.
Two former CMs of Jharkhand-Raghubar Das and Babulal Marandi-also attacked Soren for his comments on the PM.
The saffron party's Jharkhand unit president Deepak Prakash also joined them in Soren bashing.
"The chief minister has stooped to low and has indulged in a 'low-level' politics," Prakash said.
'Such a statement by the head of a state for his prime minister shows low standard, Chief Minister Hemant Soren Ji. It would have been better if you paid attention to the declining health services in Jharkhand. How long would you decieve the people of the state by such statements?' said BJP MLA C P Singh in a tweet.
"Leave alone huge GST dues, the state should get other dues whether from minesor other sectors which is rightful," R P N Singh told PTI.
State Congress spokesperson Alok Dubey echoed similar views.
Heading Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal coalition government in Jharkhand, Soren has been critical of the centre on tackling coronavirus situation and vaccination.
On May 1 he had blamed organisations authorised by the centre for not making available vaccines for putting off the 18 plus anti-COVID jab for now and said the state will announce the fresh dates for vaccination once it is available.
The inoculation drive for the people in the age-group of 18-44 years remained a non-starter in the state amid non-supplies of vaccines.
Jharkhand is also badly hit by the second wave of the deadly virus.
Jharkhand is among the 10 states and Union territories that are collectively accounting for over 75 per cent of daily COVID-19 deaths in the country, according to latest data.
The others in the league are Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.