In Bihar poll rallies, Narendra Modi’s revealing silence on his ‘Hanuman’ Chirag Paswan

The Prime Minister’s silence on Chirag Paswan strengthened the widespread belief that Paswan Jr is being propped up by the BJP and embarrassed chief minister Nitish Kumar

In Bihar poll rallies, Narendra Modi’s revealing silence on his ‘Hanuman’ Chirag Paswan

Abdul Qadir

Onions are selling in Bihar for Rs 100 a Kg. But the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who addressed his first election rallies, three of them on Friday, naturally made no mention of the high prices. But while he dutifully delivered lavish praise on Dalit icon from the state late Ram Vilas Paswan, the PM was equally silent on Paswan Junior.

Chirag Paswan has vowed to ensure a BJP-LJP government in the state to the exclusion of JD(U) and Nitish Kumar. His party Lok Jan Shakti Party claims to be in the NDA and has not put up candidates against the BJP. But he has fielded candidates against JD(U) in an overt attempt to cut it to size. He has also said on record that he is the Prime Minister’s Hanuman with the PM obviously being Ram.

But on Friday if JD(U) expected the PM Modi to explicitly side with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and chide LJP leader Chirag Paswan for his political misadventure in Bihar, they were disappointed.

If the PM’s silence on Chirag Paswan was not enough to unsettle Nitish, PM’s disproportionately tribute to Paswan Sr and saying how Paswan remained on his (Modi’s) side till the very last, left no one in any doubt that the political door has been left more than half open to welcome Chirag into the BJP, if necessary after the polling is over.

Even as Nitish Kumar listed in detail his achievements of the last 15 years, the Prime Minister made no bones about his claim that Nitish Kumar was in effective control only during the double engine period of the last three years. The remaining 12 years of his tenure, the Prime Minister indicated, were lost either in fighting the UPA or in acquiescing to the ‘misdeeds’ of the ‘family’.

In other words, the Prime Minister or the BJP cannot be held responsible for anything that has gone wrong in the state. But of course, whatever good was done, was done in the last three years. If it embarrassed the chief minister, his stony face betrayed nothing. He of course claims to have given a facelift to the once BIMARU state.

The PM also did not hard sell either the free vaccine promise or the 19 lakh job offer and only made a passing reference to the ease of obtaining loan for business purposes once the proposed drone mapping exercise is completed.

However, like Nitish, the PM too, mostly harped on the Lalu - Rabri period when girls, according to the PM, used to be unsafe. Characteristically enough the PM tried his tongue in Bhojpuri language in Dehri and referred to Chhath, the most important Bihar festival. On a day when his friend, the US President Donald Trump let him down by calling India filthy, he had reason to be listless and less than enthusiastic.

While confining himself to list achievements of the NDA, it was only towards the end of his Dehri speech that the PM referred to Nitish Kumar as the NDA’s CM candidate. In Bhagalpur too, he listed only the central schemes like track doubling, bridge construction and expansion of National Highways.

The Modi - Nitish chasm was more than apparent at Bhagalpur where Nitish extensively referred to the communal riots of 1989, his inclusive brand of politics and the long and painstaking exercise undertaken by him (Nitish) to do justice to the riot victims and provide them support including financial assistance.

Modi, in his speech, made no reference to the riots and instead recalled the places of Hindu worship in Bhagalpur and neighbouring areas and issues like Ram Mandir, Article 370 and Triple Talaq, issues that were not touched by Nitish Kumar. Nitish’s reference to the communal strife in Bhagalpur would have embarrassed Union Minister Ashwini Choubey who was present on the dais and whose son was booked by the Nitish govt on the charge of causing communal disharmony.

Neither Nitish nor Modi made any reference either to the Special status or Central University tag for PU.

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