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In Modi versus Nitish battle, ‘Shotgun’ Shatrughan Sinha shoots himself in the foot

On his part, Shatrughan Sinha has been peeved at not being given any key role in the 2015 Bihar assembly poll campaign.

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“Khamosh” is what the BJP top brass would have liked to tell its star politician and Patna Saheb MP Shatrughan Sinha – just to pay him back in his own iconic disyllabic war cry which the he uses to such good effect at his most public meetings.

Though the BJP leadership has not issued any official warning to Sinha to refrain from making statements such as calling LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan the “best NDA candidate” for CM or for meeting CM Nitish Kumar — much to the party’s discomfiture — the party has been upset by Sinha’s act of “defiance”.

On his part, Sinha has been peeved at not being given any key role in the 2015 assembly poll campaign. The senior leader is a known crowd-puller but he has not been a part of BJP’s key poll strategy since the 2005 assembly elections. Somewhere, Sinha’s softness towards Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad have come in the way of him being used by BJP against its rivals. Sinha has only made it worse for himself by “ignoring” the main leaders of the state and praising Paswan.

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Sinha has little significance in the battle ahead. The 2015 polls are not about Sinha or any sulking BJP leader. It is out and out a personality battle between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar with Lalu Prasad providing the intermittent third angle. For Narendra Modi, Lalu fits the ‘jungle raj’ comparison in his bid to have the upper hand over Nitish in “your development vs my development fight”.

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Other top leaders like Ram Vilas Paswan, Jitan Ram Manjhi and Upendra Kushwaha are only character artistes in the epic show featuring Modi and Nitish in “Round II”.

Such is the urgency of crowds to hear Modi at his rallies that NDA leaders would finish their speeches before the PM’s arrival at the dais. Nitish Kumar comes into the frame soon after Modi concludes his speeches leaving sundry posers for Nitish Kumar — he often opts for press conferences to answer and pick holes in Modi’s speeches. It is personality for personality, development for development and data for data. Lalu Prasad has fallen by wayside in this duel although he tries to find space by imitating Modi and raising his old demand for the release of caste census report.

Social combination remains the biggest reality of Bihar. Yet, the champion face of this plank, Lalu, looks like playing second fiddle to Nitish. But this can change with the 30 August Swabhiman rally by Grand Alliance at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan. Lalu has asked his workers to fill the Gandhi Maidan with green flags of RJD. This will be an opportunity for Lalu to pitchfork himself against Modi. Lalu still likes to lead from the front but Modi’s development plank has silenced Lalu a bit. Had it been a communalism versus secularism debate, Lalu would have been the main opponent to Modi.

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Leaders like Shatrughan Sinha hardly fit into the Bihar picture. Playing into the opposition’s hands only present the Bihari Babu in a poor light. He could have tried to sort out his problems with the BJP’s leadership rather than passing off as cry baby.

First published on: 26-08-2015 at 03:04:55 pm
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