Rallies, an integral part of Bihar politics are now churning out catchy names like ‘Khabardar’, ‘Hunkar’, ‘Janakrosh’ and ‘Adhikar’ to attract the masses… Political allegations and counter-allegations are flying thick and fast in the wake of the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. With all the major political parties in Bihar clamouring for special status or a special package, the masses could expect many such rallies in the days and months to come…
Rallies, an integral part of Bihar politics are now churning out catchy names like ‘Khabardar’, ‘Hunkar’ and ‘Adhikar’ to attract the masses. Last month witnessed many such gatherings. On October 30, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) held its ‘Khabardar Rally’ (Caution Rally) in Patna. It was called mainly to protest the recent acquittal by Patna high court of all the 26 accused of killing 58 Dalits in the Laxmanpur Bathe village of Jehanabad district 16 years ago.
The CPI (M-L) had other points to drive home too, as their slogan for the rally stated: ‘Samanti-sampradayik takaton, khabardar! looteri fasiwadi takaton, khabardar! Bihar ki janta hai tayyar’!! (Beware feudal-communal forces! Beware usurper-fascist forces! For the people of Bihar are ready!!).
Before that, the Bharatiya Janata Party had convened a ‘Hunkar Rally’ in Patna on October 27, which was addressed by its star campaigner and Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. Besides starting his campaign in Bihar for the 2014 general elections, Modi launched a broadside against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his home turf for snapping ties with BJP. It was obvious from the posters put up by BJP across the State asking people to attend Modi’s rally that Nitish Kumar would be his target. ‘Gathbandhan ka tiraskar, hunkar utha Bihar’ (Bihar roars against the dishonouring of the alliance), read one poster. ‘Vishwasghat ko dhikkar, hunkarega Bihar’ (‘Shame on the betrayer’ will be Bihar’s cry!), another poster read.
Modi tore into his bete noire Nitish, calling him an “opportunist” who had “betrayed and backstabbed” Jaiprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia and also the people of Bihar for his own Prime Ministerial ambitions. He accused Nitish of playing aankh michauli (hide and seek) with Congress. Modi also backed the Rs. 50,000 crore special package demand for Bihar, as made by the State BJP unit, and asked the people to wait for “another 200 days” (when the BJP would come to power). Thanking the people of Bihar for showering love on him, Modi said he would return it “with interest.”
The ‘Janakrosh Rally’ (Public Outrage Rally) of October 25 at Gandhi Maidan, convened by the Communist Party of India, touched on issues like rising inflation, anti-poor policies of both the Congress and BJP and rising instances of communal violence.
Taking a dig at the massive preparation being done for BJP’s ‘Hunkar Rally’, which was held at the same venue two days later, senior party leader A B Bardhan said that while his party espoused the cause of the poor, BJP was brazenly using huge funds with an eye on power in Delhi. Gurudas Dasgupta, MP and CPI National Secretary, alleged that neither Prime Minister Manmohan Singh nor Modi cared for the plight of the poor. CPI also backed Nitish Kumar’s special status demand for Bihar and said the incentive was required for the State to tide over its economic backwardness.
CPI is trying to woo JD-U into the proposed Third Front. The move comes after JD-U parted ways with the BJP, its ally of 17 years over the anointment of Modi as NDA’s prime ministerial candidate.
Earlier this year, the Bihar Chief Minister had taken his fight for special status to the national capital with his ‘Adhikar Rally’ (Right Rally). “Either you give it (special status) now or after 2014, you will have to give it,” Nitish had said at the rally in Delhi on March 17this year. Referring to the likely fluid political situation in the country and the bargaining power that he could possibly come to command after the 2014 parliamentary elections, Nitish said: “You will have to accept the demand in circumstances that will be there after 2014. Only one who feels about the backward, the backward States, will occupy the seat of power at the Centre”.
In his over 20-minute speech at the Ramlila Ground invoking regional pride, Nitish alleged that people from Bihar were ignored everywhere and cited the Centre’s refusal to give rehabilitation funds for Kosi flood victims and the repeated refusal of the Centre in the past to accord special status to the State. Political allegations and counter-allegations are flying thick and fast in the wake of the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. With all the major political parties in Bihar clamouring for special status or a special package, the masses could expect many such rallies in the days and months to come.