HOARDINGS SAY IT ALL
As soon as you enter Patna city from the airport, you are greeted with two sets of hoardings. One has the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo promising development with change, while the other has a Nitish Kumar cut-out, also talking of progress. What is interesting is that Lalu Yadav is prominently missing from most of Nitish Kumar’s hoardings. He has his own separate set, or if present along with Kumar, is reduced to a postage stamp size presence along with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Clearly, when Nitish Kumar is talking about development, the presence of Lalu with his baggage of “jungle raj” would undercut the message. As for the BJP, well, it’s clearly a campaign run by the Centre. There is no state leader present along with the Modi-Shah duo, and the allies get a postage size mention, if at all. This is a Modi vs Nitish show. And it’s not just politics, this one is personal.
The Campaign HQ
BJP party president Amit Shah is closely monitoring the campaign from the third floor of a hotel in the capital. That is, of course, when he is not out addressing rallies himself. State leaders rush in and out with charts and field reports. Not too far away, however, at the BJP HQ is the party’s war room. Entry is only by biometric and this is managed by the Ananth Kumar-Dharmendra Pradhan duo, which has been managing the last two elections in Bihar. Pradhan’s informal rapport with party workers has him often pulling up a red plastic chair on the courtyard outside the war room and talking with the disgruntled, enthusing them to work harder.
The Gen Next
With both Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan keeping a low profile, the mantle is slowly being passed on to the Gen Next. Paswan’s son Chirag is much more hands-on and visible than the Yadav clan. Although an NDA ally, Chirag doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind when asked about either the beef ban or Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma’s attempts at “playing culture police”. He, in fact, told NewsX that every individual was free to eat whatever he/she wanted and also questioned the timing of the beef controversy, keeping in mind the Bihar elections.
Praise for Chirag
Prime Minister Narendra Modi singled out Chirag Paswan’s speaking skills recently. He told the young leader that there were two Gen Next dynasts whom he had been monitoring closely — both Chirag and YSR’s son Jagan Mohan Reddy — and said he liked the way both were shaping up. An excited Chirag holds this Prime Ministerial praise very dear. He, however, did complain to the PM that after his Independence Day speech when the PM asked all mothers to monitor their sons instead of just their daughters, his own mother had taken to questioning him as to what time he would return home every time he went out.
Strife in Lalu Land
It’s an open secret in Patna that there is a turf war on between Lalu’s two sons, Tej Pratap and Tejaswi Yadav, as to who will be his political heir apparent. Both are contesting this Assembly election. While Tej Pratap is older, he is his mother’s favourite, but it is Tejaswi who is more politically savvy and has the father’s blessings. Both sons share the same roof, but have their own campaign teams and are rarely seen together on the same dais. It was Tejwasi who was sent by Lalu to share the dais with Rahul Gandhi when the Congress vice-president visited the state recently.