Patna: Sharing a stage for the first time, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD leader Lalu Prasad and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday denounced Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of failing to fulfil the promises made before the Lok Sabha election.
While Nitish Kumar repeatedly referred to Modi’s DNA barb hurled at him, former chief minister Lalu Prasad refuted allegations that a Congress-RJD-Janata Dal-United combine would mean a return of “jungle raj” in Bihar. And addressing the tens of thousands gathered at the Gandhi Maidan, Sonia Gandhi accused Modi of humiliating the people of Bihar.
The “Swabhimaan Rally” of these three parties along with the Samajwadi Party was the biggest show of strength of the anti-BJP parties in response to Modi’s election rallies. Nitish Kumar played the self-respect card as he mentioned Modi’s DNA barb over a dozen time during his 45-minute speech.
He said the large number of DNA samples of people of Bihar collected by his party would be sent to Modi from Monday. “My DNA,” he thundered to loud cheers, “is similar to those of the people of Bihar.” The chief minister dubbed Modi’s remark an insult to Bihar and to the self-respect of Biharis.
“Nothing is wrong with Bihar’s DNA. The state has a glorious history. My DNA emanates from Bihar’s soil. I was born in a freedom fighter’s home.” Nitish Kumar said he had established the rule of law in Bihar and refuted allegations that “jungle raj” had returned to the state after he joined hands with Lalu Prasad.
“There is no jungle raj. There is a rule of law in Bihar. When my government took action in one case, a BJP ally threatened to break my chest at a press conference. Modi has described him as his dear friend.” The chief minister said more crime took place in Delhi, where police were under the control of the central government.
Gandhi also spoke about the “dignity” of the people of Bihar. “I have come here to boost the fight for Bihar’s pride and self-respect. There are some people who take pleasure in degrading Bihar,” she said.
She accused Modi of failing to provide millions of jobs to the young every year. “What happened to that promise?” she asked. “The Modi government is anti-people and anti-farmer. It has done nothing except propaganda.”
Lalu Prasad said the return of the RJD-JD-U combine was not a return of “jungle raj 2” but “mangal raj 2”. “After two sons of backwards — Lalu and Nitish — joined hands, BJP leaders have been trying to create a false impression.
“We understand the BJP’s and Modi’s designs to create communal riots. But this is not the Bihar before the 1990s. This is the Bihar of post 1990s.” It is the first time Gandhi has shared a stage with Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad.
All roads virtually led to the Gandhi Maidan as participants marched to the venue waving JD-U, RJD and Congress flags. Hundreds of vehicles carrying rallyists were stuck on the outskirts of Patna and the Gandhi Setu on the Ganga that connect north Bihar to Patna. Thousands kept chanting “Lalu-Nitish Zindabad” all through the rally.
Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj said nearly 5,000 police personnel were deployed in and around the sprawling ground. Police set up 10 watch towers and 13 door frame metal detectors.
Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav, a brother of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, and senior Congress leaders C.P. Joshi and Ghulam Nabi Azad also attended the rally. The JD-U, RJD and Congress are fighting the assembly elections in an alliance along with the Samajwadi Party.