New Delhi, Oct 28 (): BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s first political meeting in Bihar on Sunday has set in a new political equation that he hopes to set in motion.
Modi tore his arch rival, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who had ended his alliance with the BJP over Modi’s promotion in the party. This was expected but the unexpected was Modi’s speech at his ‘hunkar’ (war cry) rally where his long-time critic, Lalu Prasad Yadav the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD chief and his Yadav caste, who form 12 % of Bihar’s population were wooed.
Modi sprang a surprise, when he spoke warmly about RJD leader Lalu Prasad, presently lodged in a Ranchi jail after being convicted in a fodder scam case.
Modi recalled that he had called Lalu when he met with an accident a few months ago. Lalu was so moved that he disclosed this to the media. The next line was more significant. Modi said he came from the lineage of Yaduvanshi king, Sri Krishna’s Dwarka (in Gujarat), and so promised to take full care of all Yaduvanshis in UP and Bihar. It was a call to Lalu’s Yadav community.
The move is aimed at striking an emotional chord with Yadavs when the community is united behind Lalu.
Modi’s strategy is to corner Nitish Kumar in his own State since his call may appeal to many Yadavs who feel bitter over what they see as undue targeting of Lalu Prasad. If offering olive branch to Yadavs clicked, then it could significantly change the electoral equations in Bihar in favour of the BJP , ahead of the Lok Sabha poll.
However, it is difficult for the community, who ruled under the leadership of Lalu and later his wife Rabri Devi, for 14 years (1990-2004) with Muslims as an ally. Muslims will however not align with Modi. Modi has been using Yoga guru Baba Ramdev to woo Yadavs , whose followers in Bihar, many of them Yadavs, have already openly pledged their support to the BJP’s PM nominee.
In the 2010 Bihar assembly polls, BJP got 16.46% of votes compared to 22.61 % votes polled by its ally JD (U) but now a rival. Lalu’s RJD had polled 18.84% votes at the time.
Even if a fraction of RJD votes goes to the BJP in the Lok Sabha poll in response to Modi’s appeal, it could mean a lot. Lalu Prasad was keen to revive his alliance with the Congress (2000-2009), which had ended ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha poll due to a seat sharing dispute.
Manmohan Singh regime backing out of the proposed ordinance that could have helped Lalu retain his Saran Lok Sabha seat after his conviction in a fodder scam case, has shaken his trust in the Congress.
Modi also revealed of how he bore the humiliation of not being allowed to come on election campaign trips to Bihar for several years at Kumar’s behest, but now he did so because he did not want a return of jungle raj.