Nobody is quite sure if assembly elections in Bihar, scheduled for later this year, will be held or get deferred. But Rashtriya Janata Dal turned the Prime Minister’s show of solidarity to show off its own strength. Some observers believe it utilized the opportunity to launch its campaign.
RJD asked its followers to light a lantern, its official symbol, in place of a lamp. Rabri Devi and her eldest son Tej Pratap also stood outside their house with lanterns in hand. So did many RJD supporters across the state.
“We abided by the Prime Minister’s advice. But the lantern is much safer. We have an age-old tradition of lighting lanterns; What is wrong in it?” asked Lal Babu Yadav, a party worker.
The humble lantern, allotted to the party 23 years ago, was often used by RJD’s opponents to jeer the party and accuse it of throwing Bihar back to the dark age. But last night, RJD turned it to its advantage and put up a spectacular show of strength.
Indeed, observers were quick to point out that RJD actually appeared more contemporary, chic and modern with the lantern than those who stood with the even more modest earthen lamps!
Media old-timers recalled that in 2017, the then health minister Tej Pratap Yadav and his father Lalu Prasad Yadav were invited to a public function by a body of doctors. As was his wont, Lalu Prasad brought the House down with his speech laced with rustic wit and wisdom. He also spoke at length of how in villages people still used indigenous treatment to get rid of diseases.
Several newspapers the next day quoted doctors speaking on condition of anonymity as saying that the RJD leader had trivialized a serious issue.
But the same newspapers ironically are silent today to the Prime Minister prescribing a light and sound show to beat the coronavirus. No section of the media, which incessantly jeered at Lalu Yadav, has questioned BJP leaders’ outlandish remedies or the PM’s simplistic shows of unity and appreciation.
In any case, RJD last night turned the table on its opponents and stole a strategic march over rivals by undertaking the ;antern-lighting campaign.