| (From left) JD(U) leaders Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Bashishtha Narayan Singh and Sharad Yadav at the party’s brainstorming session in Rajgir on Monday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
Rajgir, Oct. 28: Twin worries haunted JD(U) cadres at their two-day chintan shivir here to strategise for the 2014 elections.
First, the party leadership and cadres were anxious to know if the Nitish Kumar government could convince the common man it can rein in subversive forces who executed blasts at a high-profile rally. Partymen were animatedly discussing July’s Bodhgaya blasts and yesterday’s Hunkar Rally blasts. They feared their meet, too, could be attacked.
The second worry was whether their chief minister could match Narendra Modi in the fire and brimstone he displayed at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan. “Modi’s speech was laced with venom against our leader. We expect Nitishji to pay back in the same coin. But, we are not sure he can match the passion and zeal with which Modi tore through our party and leader,” said a cadre from Bhojpur district.
The party’s first big event since it broke ranks with the BJP in June was devoid of the enthusiasm that had marked its chintan shivir at the same venue ahead of the 2010 Assembly polls. Nitish, who earlier moved around in a colourful horse-drawn chariot when in Rajgir, 100km south of Patna, kept a low profile.
JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav did not attach much importance to Modi. Asked about Modi’s allegation that the JD(U) had demitted the ideals of Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia, Sharad said: “Yeh sab phaltu baat hai. (All this is futile talk). Our party is committed to implementing JP and Lohia’s dreams”. He ruled out the possibility of his party deciding to ally with the Congress at this stage and denied that the Left-sponsored conclave on communalism on October 30, that the JD(U) is attending, would lead to a third or fourth front.
Modi continued to worry the cadres. “Lalu se bhi bada badbola lagta hai (Modi seems a bigger demagogue than Lalu Prasad),” a JD(U) cadre said. Another countered: “Lalu agar bahar rahte to use phad dete (Had Lalu been out of jail he would have torn Modi apart)”. But senior leader Shivanand Tiwari put up a brave face. He said: “The JD(U) has gone from strength to strength in Bihar on the basis of hard work. Our work is our strength. Let demagoguery and rhetoric remain others’ strength.”