Updated: October 7, 2016 5:07:21 pm
Thanks to the cadres of the JD(U), RJD and Congress, the Grand Alliance did get a good crowd at its first joint show featuring all three star speakers – Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad and Sonia Gandhi. The rally also had its share of firsts: Sonia Gandhi and Nitish Kumar who stood for anti-Congressism all these years, shared dais for the first time. Lalu Prasad tried to renew his relationship with the Congress by saying he had no differences with Sonia Gandhi.
All three speakers succeeded in their common agenda of launching a diatribe against PM Narendra Modi. Nitish did offer a plan of what he wanted to do for Bihar but Lalu Prasad and Sonia Gandhi did not say anything about what they would do for Bihar if the Grand Alliance came to power. So long as it was about attacking Modi, they scored points. However, contradictions galore remained
Nitish was caught between his development plank and his invoking of Bihari asmita to counter the PM’s DNA comment. It was surely the CM’s best speech as the Grand Alliance’s leader but the buzz was missing. He did not get the desired crowd connect — there was no deafening applause for him despite his publicity manager Prashant Kishore’s move to play music eulogising Nitish before and after his speech.
Nitish missed the point in his first attempt to defend Lalu Prasad on the `jungle raj’ slur. Nitish presented his development face as a defence. It was a laboured justification from Nitish, who could neither fully defend Lalu on misrule nor claim Lalu with conviction.
Lalu Prasad, however, was forthright in playing his tried and tested MY card. He openly exhorted Yadav youths and tried to attack upper castes in a veiled manner by targeting Bhumihar Mokama JD (U) MLA Anant Singh. He cautioned Yadav voters against BJP’s attempt to divide them. The RJD chief, however, forgot the presence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi when he said, “it is not Bihar of pre-1990” which was the phase of upper caste-centric politics by the Congress.
Sonia Gandhi was caught trying to find a balance between Nitish and the Congress. She stood by Nitish and Bihar pride. She did not dwell too much on the UPA government’s past performance for she knew it would work against her.
The Swabhiman rally ended with no clear message given the separate agendas of Lalu and Nitish. The chief minister of Bihar should have been more forthright in reinforcing his development credentials.
It was a good show but not a grand one given the power of the three leaders.
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