The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have a new headache in Bihar: rising prices of ‘dal’.
With prices of pulses shooting up across the country, the anti-BJP alliance is having a field day blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his central government.
And many voters in Bihar, in the midst of staggered assembly elections, seem to be in agreement.
“We voted for Modi (in the 2014 Lok Sabha election) as he promised to check price rise,” said Ganesh Rai, who runs a construction business in Chitkohra, near Patna.
“But he has failed to check the prices of food items. Dal is selling at Rs.200 a kilo. Who can afford it?”
It is an issue that affects not just the poor but the more vocal middle class too.
With hardly a week to go for the third round of the Bihar elections, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD leader Lalu Prasad are going hammer and tongs against the BJP.
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and RJD activists say they are playing the “dal card” against the BJP-led alliance in what is expected to be a tough contest for the 243-member Bihar assembly.
Sensing trouble, the BJP and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan — who is also the agriculture minister in the Modi government — and others in their camp on Tuesday began damage control by blaming the Bihar government for the state of affairs.
Paswan has been downplaying the issue of rising prices. At the same time, he has promised to provide cheaper dal if the BJP-led alliance wins in Bihar.
JD-U and RJD supporters gleefully recall the time when the zooming prices of onions caused electoral setbacks to the BJP in Rajasthan and Delhi in 1998.
Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar thunder at every election meeting that dal prices are shooting up because of the Modi government’s policies.
Lalu Prasad says this is how the poor have been deprived of pulses. “Modi has taken away the ‘dal’ in the poor man’s dal-roti.”
Nitish Kumar has hit back at Paswan after he blamed him for the rising dal prices in Bihar.
“If I am to blame, why is dal selling at Rs.200 a kilo in BJP-ruled states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan?” the JD-U leader keeps asking.