New Delhi: Union minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday withdrew his remark to RJD leader Manoj Jha that his party would one day turn the entire "country into Bihar" if they have their way, saying he had no intention of insulting the state or its people.
At the start of Rajya Sabha proceedings on Thursday, Jha, who had on Wednesday shot off a letter to Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar about the minister's "demeaning" remark, demanded an apology from the BJP leader.
Goyal, the Minister of Commerce and Industry as well as the Leader of the House, said he will immediately withdraw the statement if it has hurt anybody.
"At the outset, let me clarify that there is absolutely no intention of insulting either Bihar or the people of Bihar. And if at all it has hurt anybody, I will immediately withdraw that statement. It was not made with any malice to anybody at all," he said.
Goyal made the remark on Tuesday when Jha was speaking during a discussion on the Appropriation Bill seeking Parliament's nod for additional spending.
As he said the government should devote equal attention to the poor and corporate houses, Goyal responded by saying "inka bas chale to desh ko Bihar bana dein (if they have their way, they will turn the country into Bihar)."
On Thursday, Jha said an insult to Bihar is an insult to the entire country, and demanded Goyal apologise for his remark.
Leader of Opposition and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge too joined Jha in demanding an apology from Goyal.
In his letter to Dhankhar, Jha stated that Goyal's remark was "demeaning" to one of the greatest states and as the Leader of the House of Rajya Sabha, he "should ponder and reflect on whether the sneering tone with which he speaks about Bihar is appropriate".