Rallying Within Norms
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message of caution during the festive season seems to have poured water over the BJP’s grand rally plans in poll-bound Bihar. With the massive crowd in Tejashwi Yadav’s rallies becoming a talking point, the NDA had taken permission for huge rallies in Sasaram, Gaya and Bhagalpur on Friday. However, following the Prime Minister’s message to the nation on Tuesday, reminding people about the need for physical distancing and other Covid-related protocols, the organisers had to issue new guidelines. The crowd strength has now been reduced to 5,000-6,000 and people will not be allowed to stand at the venues. The central BJP, it is learnt, has given strict instructions that large crowds without physical distancing would “annoy” the Prime Minister.
Heat On Cooling Off
Former Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey had caused a flutter a month ago with his decision to leave the IPS and join the JD(U) just before the Assembly elections. Although the move did not work out for Pandey, as he did not get a ticket to contest elections, the Election Commission is learnt to have taken note of the development. The poll watchdog may revive its proposal on cooling off period for civil servants keen on joining politics. This proposal was first made by the Commission in 2012, but it did not evoke a positive response from the government then. At that time, the EC wanted a two-year cooling off period. It’s likely that the poll panel may write to the government again on the issue.
When the Congress released its manifesto for Bihar elections on Wednesday, the party’s state unit chief, Madan Mohan Jha, was missing. Also absent was CLP leader Sadanand Singh. It turned out that Jha, who is contesting the MLC election from Darbhanga teachers’ constituency, for which voting took place on Thursday, was busy in some last-minute canvassing of votes. Singh’s son Shubhanand Mukesh is the Congress candidate from his seat, Kahalgaon, and he was busy campaigning there. Singh is not contesting this time and the party has fielded his son.
Vocal on Local
In his election rallies in Bihar, BJP president J P Nadda doesn’t forget to give a personal touch — he reminds the crowd that he was born in Patna, how he had walked through some particular streets, his student days, etc. Nadda’s speeches have one more element in common — the Narendra Modi government’s schemes and programmes in the health sector. While referring to it, he brings in the point that when he was the Union Health minister, Modi had asked him to pay “special attention” to Patna, and that he himself took the initiative in improving health facilities in the state capital. He also doesn’t forget to mention how cooperative CM Nitish Kumar has been in his attempts to build a super-specialty hospital in Patna. Not a single speech misses these points.
While Nitish Kumar has been promising irrigation facility in every field, Tejashwi has been talking of a loan waiver to farmers and 10 lakh permanent jobs. Jan Adhikar Party chief Rajesh Ranjan a.k.a Pappu Yadav has been claiming that he would make Bihar one of the top states in Asia, while Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief Upendra Kushwaha has been talking about overhauling the education system.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad, though incarcerated in Ranchi, added flavour to the debate by taking to Twitter (his handle is being managed by the party in consultation with him) to advise “a tired Nitish to take rest”. Lalu Prasad also shared a joke about a man who when asked whether he was carrying a bucket of water to extinguish some fire in Bihar replied, “I am is carrying it to make an ocean in Bihar so that there can be a coastline and a port in the state for progress.”
The punch line being the impossibility of the promises by ‘Vikas Purush’ Nitish, who has been comparing his “15 years rule versus 15 years misrule” of the Lalu government.
LJP’s subtle Modi campaign
LJP nominees taking on JD (U) candidates have found a way out to indirectly convey its proximity to BJP to voters after the saffron party objected to the use of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poster or name by any non-NDA political parties.
Some LJP candidates including its Amarpur (Banka) candidate Mrinal Shekhar have switched to using the slogan “Jhopdi me kamal khilayenge (we want lotus to bloom in hut)”. While hut is the election symbol of LJP, lotus is the symbol of BJP. LJP president Chirag Paswan, who will start campaigning from October 21 onwards, had anyway taken an official stand of “forming a BJP-led LJP” government.
Chirag also continues to take digs at Bihar CM Nitish Kumar saying it is the CM who needs the PM’s posters and for LJP, PM is in the heart of every LJP worker.