PATNA: Opposition parties in Bihar on Wednesday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation had an eye on the upcoming Bihar polls, with the RJD saying the BJP cannot win the elections on PR stunts.
The state unit of the BJP, however, rubbished the allegations saying that the opposition parties have a narrow mindset.
In his speech on Tuesday, Modi had referred to ‘Chhath Puja’ twice, though the festival which is the biggest in Bihar, is close to five months away.
The prime minister then followed up his speech with a flurry of tweets in languages spoken across the country, with two of them in Bhojpuri, which is commonly spoken in Bihar.
In a tweet in Bhojpuri, Lalu Prasad’s RJD responded to the prime minister’s remarks, saying, “You have come to think of Bhojpuri now.
“A few months ago you had suddenly remembered Litti-Chokha. You think you can fight elections on the basis of such PR stunts?”
The Bihar assembly election is due in October-November this year.
The ‘litti-chokha’ barb was an apparent reference to Modi’s savouring of the Bihari delicacy at a stall set up as part of the ‘Hunar Haat’ in Delhi earlier this year.
“Remember, the elections in Bihar are going to be a mahasangram (epic battle). You may have won over the turncoat with a flawed DNA. You won’t be able to win the trust of the people of the state who are seekers of justice, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) said.
The remark by the opposition party was aimed at Modi’s DNA jibe at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during the 2015 assembly polls which the JD(U) chief had fought and won in a “grand alliance” with the RJD and the Congress.
Kumar’s abrupt exit from the alliance and return to the BJP-led NDA three years ago led to the RJD being ousted from power.
This continues to rankle the RJD, which hopes to garner public sympathy over betrayal of mandate by the chief minister.
RJD’s estranged allies Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) seemed to be in agreement that the gestures by Prime Minister Modi were essentially an electoral stunt.
HAM spokesman Danish Rizwan and RLSP national general secretary Madhaw Anand came out with statements to the effect.
The common allegation made by the HAM and the RLSP in their statements was that the speech was made with an eye on assembly elections in Bihar and the prime minister seemed more interested in ensuring his party BJP’s victory than providing real benefits to the poor.
However, at a press conference held here, BJP’s Bihar president Sanjay Jaiswal rubbished the charge and asserted that opposition parties are demonstrating their “chhoti soch” (narrow mindset).
These regional parties have such a narrow vision that they do not appear to know that ‘Chhath’ is now not just a festival of Bihar.
People from the state are spread across the country and the festival is, therefore, celebrated everywhere, he said.
Jaiswal also pointed out that the prime minister had tweeted in many other languages, including Sanskrit, and wondered why the opposition was making a big fuss over the issue.
Sources in the NDA in Bihar, however, said that a masterstroke has been played by Modi, on whose charisma the JD(U)-BJP combine depends as much for its success in the assembly poll as the goodwill earned by Nitish Kumar during his 15 years as chief minister.
Kumar’s performance, numerous failures notwithstanding, is acknowledged by all as having been better than that of his predecessors.
The JD(U) chief, who will seek his fourth consecutive term in the elections, came out with a nod of approval.
“I thank the Prime Minister and express my gratitude towards him for extending the Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana under which the poor will now get free ration for another five months,” Kumar tweeted.