Even as Bihar’s capital Patna was rocked by multiple bomb blasts just ahead of his Hunkar rally on Sunday, Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi remained calm and addressed a mammoth gathering at the historic Gandhi Maidan where he not only targeted Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar but also signalled that he was determined to expand BJP’s voter base by luring groups which have been traditionally antithetical to his party till now.
While the state security apparatus and administration was busy dealing with the blasts that left five people dead and at least 83 others injured, Modi used all his oratory skills to whip the massive crowd into frenzy as he briefly addressed them in Bhojpuri, Maithli and Magahi – the three major dialects spoken in Bihar.
Coming down heavily on Nitish Kumar, who had ensured that Modi did not set foot on Bihar even when the BJP was an ally of the Janata Dal United, the Gujarat Chief Minister accused him of not only betraying the people of the state but also of backstabbing his mentors Jaiprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia while eyeing the prime minister’s post.
Undeterred by the blasts near the rally venue, Modi went into an overdrive and lambasted Nitish Kumar and his claims of being secular and putting the state back on the path of development. Claiming that whatever development Bihar had seen since late 2005 was only due to the hard work of BJP ministers and MLAs in the Nitish government.
“The Chief Minister of the state is my friend but he has betrayed Bihar and not just the BJP. He has always claimed to be anti-Congress but now he is dreaming about becoming the prime minister with Congress’s support. Our party made Nitish Kumar the chief minister in 2000 even though BJP had won more seats. But we took this decision as we wanted to end the jungle raj.
But he could not get enough support to win the trust vote,” said Modi as he mockingly referred to him as his good friend. “When people ask me why he left us, my reply is one who can leave JP, can also leave BJP. Those who claim to be followers of JP and Ram Manohar Lohia have back stabbed them. When he came to Gujarat, I looked after him. It is our culture to look after guests. But look at his hypocrisy.
He did not eat dinner at a meet called by the PM as I was also sitting beside him. Even though I told him there was no photographer there and he could relax, the Bihar Chief Minister did not pay attention,” he said in his almost 45-minute speech while urging the people to vote JDU out government in the next election. He added that he was humiliated and not allowed to visit Bihar by Nitish, but he did not let it to come in the way of ensuring the end of “jungle raj” – euphemism for the poor law and order under the RJD rule.
“When I was not allowed to visit Bihar, I told the state BJP leaders not to insist on my tour. I was humiliated but my aim was that jungle raj should not return to Bihar,” he added. The Gujarat Chief Minister also projected himself as a leader belonging to a backward caste who despite being poor rose through the ranks due to his hard work.
Aiming to break the stranglehold of jailed Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav over Yadav and Muslims, Modi narrated the mythological story of lord Krishna who was sheltered by Gujarat and then added that Muslims in Bihar were neglected under the Nitish Kumar regime whereas in his state they were a prosperous community.
Taking a potshot at the Congress and Nitish Kumar for criticising him for not being secular, Modi asked the crowd if a poor Hindu wanted to fight with a poor Muslim or if both wanted to fight their common enemy – poverty.
He also invoked the glorious history of Bihar by pointing out that the state gave the world its first republic in Vaishali and its brave sons forced the mighty army of Alexander to beat a hasty retreat while Ashok who ruled India from Patliputra was the country’s greatest king.
He then went on to claim that all major revolutions in India started from Bihar saying that Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagarh finally resulted in India’s independence and when democracy was threatened in the 1970s, then another of its illustrious son Jaiprakash Narayan showed the way. “Bihar is the land that has given birth to the bravest soldiers. When soldiers from Bihar were killed by Pakistan, then a minister of Nitish Kumar said people join the army to become martyr.
Such leaders and parties who humiliate our soldiers should be thrown out of power. Both India and Bihar needs a change of government,” he said and demanded a financial package from the Centre. He also took on the Congress accusing it promoting dynasty politics and of mocking the poor.
He added that he will stop calling Rahul Gandhi “shahzada” (prince), if Congress leaders put an end to dynasty politics. “The Congress promised to bring down prices within 100 days after winning 2009 polls, but prices have increased since then.
The poor cannot earn enough to feed their children under the Congress rule. Congress only knows how to mock the poor. Its policy is divide and rule,” said the BJP leader. He did not refer to the multiple blasts but appealed to his supporters to reach home safely after thanking them for turning out in large numbers.