Bihar’s anti-BJP grand alliance on Sunday displayed its show of strength with the Congress chief Soni Gandhi sharing the stage with the chief minister, Nitish Kumar and the RJD supremo, Lalu Prasad Yadav at what was billed as Swabhiman Rally (rally for pride).
The three leaders launched scathing attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of performing U-turn and insulting the pride of Biharis with his DNA remarks.
Addressing the rally, Sonia said, “Some people love to show Bihar down and ridicule Biharis’ DNA. Narendra Modi is doing nothing but showbazi. Country’s economic condition deteriorating because of Modiji’s wrong policies. I am sure that people of Bihar will fully support our grand alliance because our “mahagatbandhan” is founded on the idea of walking the path of development.”
Sonia also criticised Modi for what she said was another U-turn on land ordinance.
She said, ” Modi government took a ‘U-turn’ by allowing the land ordinance to lapse due to our fight against it.”
With Nitish Kumar leading the charge as the grand alliance’s chief ministerial candidate, the rally didn’t miss any opportunity to focus on his image of “sushashan babu (good governance)” who turned around Bihar in the last 10 years.
Addressing the rally, Nitish took a dig at Modi by saying that he was forced to take U-turn on the land ordinance.
He said, ” Today prime minister had to bow down (to our pressure) by taking a step back on land ordinance. His Mann Ki Baat on land ordinance today was not his mann ki baat but he spoke the words of ordinary people.”
In a reference to the latest report by the NCRB on state-wise crime rates particularly against women, Nitish said that Bihar was performing exceedingly better than the sates ruled by the BJP.
He said, “Police in Delhi is controlled by Modi ji, and yet there is less crime in Bihar as compared to Delhi and Haryana.”
He asked the crowd, “Modi questioned my DNA. Who am I, I am one of you. Jinke poorvajo ka desh ki azaadi mein koi yogdaan nahi hai, wo humare DNA ko gadbad kehte hain (Those whose ancestors had not contributed to India’s freedom are now questioning my DNA.) Humara DNA kaam karne wala hai, zubaan chalaane wala nahin hai. PM Modi is trying to fool the people of Bihar in the name of Bihar package. We need special status for Bihar more than the special package. It will bring jobs and growth to the state.”
He added, ” You promised black money. Where’s the black money? PM Modi opened 17 crore accounts under Jan Dhan scheme, most of them are vacant. Manmohan Singh spoke less because it was part of his nature, this PM, (Modi) just keeps talking. He doesnt listen to anyone: Nitish”
The rally was held just two days before Modi’s fourth rally in the state. Modi will address last Parivartan rally at Bhagalpur, scheduled for September 1.
With Lalu Prasad and Sonia Gandhi on the stage, the message that Nitish Kumar would have liked to send across was that the the grand alliance was united.
Samajwadi party which is also a part of the alliance but has negligible presence in Bihar and been offered 5 seats, had its representative on the stage.
Lalu Yadav, who spoke after Sonia and Nitish elicited better response from the crowd.
In his inimitable style, the former Bihar chief minister said, ” I can see that Modi is getting very frustrated these days. Lalu ko smart city nahi, smart gaaon chahiye (Lalu doesn’t want a smart city, he wants smart villages). Its being said that if Nitish and Lalu unite, there would be a law and order problem in Bihar. What is happening in Gujarat? Why is Modi not able to tackle it?”
The BJP was quick to react to charges made by the Grand Alliance leaders. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in Delhi, “Sonia Gandhi today praised Lalu Yadav for bringing development in Bihar. Isn’t she awar that Lalu yadav is a convict in fodder scam. What does she have to say about that?”