Glimpses of the RJD and the Congress have begun to show in a Bihar publicity campaign so far dominated by their alliance partner the JD(U). The recent Legislative Council polls has brought setbacks to all three, with the NDA leading 13-10.
The Congress has come out with its first hoarding ahead of the assembly polls while the RJD, though apparently undecided on a larger strategy, went on a protest this week when Lalu Prasad attacked the Centre for not divulging caste details from the Socio Economic and Caste Census. The RJD has not yet used posters and has decided its campaign would involve tongas rather than cars.
“Tongas will give voters time to connect with people in villages, where the pace of life is leisurely. Our effort will also be to ensure employment to tongawallas,” said Lalu who, following the Council Poll results, looked somewhat in low spirits during an iftar hosted by Nitish Kumar on Sunday.
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If Nitish’s pitch is development, Lalu has taken up a “social justice against communalism” theme, or “Mandal versus Kamandal”. The RJD seems to have strategically decided to play second fiddle to Nitish’s over-the-top campaign by Prashant Kishore’s team.
RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari said a detailed campaign would be announced soon. “We have surprise elements but it is true that we will depend on tested, conventional methods to take the message to people living in far-flung areas,” said Tiwari.
The Congress, for its part, has targeted “non-delivery” on election promises by Narendra Modi and endorsed Nitish’s development claims. The hoarding reads: “Suit boot jumla chhod, thamkar Congress ki dor, badha Bihar vikas ki aur (Ignoring the rhetoric of the suit-boot government, holding the hand of the Congress, forward goes Bihar on the road to development”.
“After providing the build-up through over 100 hoardings in Patna with a large image of Rahul Gandhi, we are launching our campaign simultaneously over 500 block offices on the theme of Bihar Virodhi Narendra Modi,” said Bihar PCC spokesperson Ashok Kumar Choudhary.
Dharnas and fasts will seek to highlight what the UPA had given Bihar between 2004 and 2014 and how Modi had gone back on most of his poll promises. Choudhary said the UPA had given Bihar about Rs 2 lakh crore in 10 years. “Modi is coming to Bihar to inaugurate some mega projects started by UPA. We will tell people about each UPA project for which the NDA is rushing to take credit,” said Choudhary.
AICC media panellist Chandan Yadav added there have been cuts in funds of Rs 3,189 crore under the 13th Finance Commission, Rs 1,923 crore under Indira Awas Yojana, Rs 621 crore under MNREGA and Rs 438 crore under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. “We are in fact preparing a preemptive speech before Prime Minister Modi’s actual speech,” said Yadav.