The first thing Prime Minister Narendra Modi did at Bhagalpur rally was to make enthusiastic youths climb down from bamboo pillars. He first addressed the climbers to establish his connect and do in a matter of a minute which entire police force was unable to do. The PM has been doing this bit of political policing since his first rally at Muzaffarpur. This is how he gets the connect and eye contacts. Modi is getting his crowd listen to him.
The takeaway from Bhagalpur rally was clear that he was not going to digress from development agenda. He was not provoked with Lalu Prasad’s posers at Patna rally on fervent caste appeal. Nor was he provoked by Nitish Kumar’s attempt to make Bihar pride an emotional issue.
Watch Video: Best of Narendra Modi’s Speech in Bihar & Analysis: Battleground Bihar
Nitish Kumar wants PM to respond to what Modi has done in last 14 months. The PM wants Nitish and Lalu to give account of 25 years. Modi knows that so long as he will talk of Nitish in terms of development, it will be very difficult to discredit Nitish on his development credentials. This is why the BJP star campaigner has asked Nitish questions on Lalu. It is a different thing that the Bihar CM ducked 25 years’ account posers and focussed it on last 10 years of NDA and JD(U) rule.
BJP cadres may well have been playing all kinds of cards overtly and covertly, PM Modi has been playing along development to nullify any attempt of caste polarisation. Lalu Prasad talked of his alliance with Nitish “the coming together of two sons of the OBCs” for social justice.
One would have expected Modi to talk about 1989 Bhagalpur riots, its compensation and delayed justice. But Modi stayed away from any tricky subject. He wants Nitish to remain his main opponent despite clear knowledge and record of Lalu Prasad’s past records. Nitish suits Modi as principal rival. Modi has been trying to cater to so many caste neutral constituencies including youths with one stroke of development plank.
While Modi’s alliance partners – Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi – have been openly playing caste cards, the PM has chosen to preside over development, answer some Nitish questions and leave some for the Bihar CM. But can development cast(e) it away in Bihar?