| BJP national president Rajnath Singh pays tributes to a picture of Karpoori Thakur in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by
Nagendra Kumar Singh |
The BJP on Wednesday equated Narendra Modi with socialist icon Karpoori Thakur in a spirited effort to woo the members of extremely backward classes, to which the Jan Nayak belonged.
“Karpoori Thakur set the highest standard in simplicity. He lived a Spartan life despite occupying the Bihar chief minister’s office thrice. Starting as a tea-seller, Narendra Modi also belongs to similar social base and he (Modi) is the true inheritor of Karpoori’s ideals and tradition,” the BJP boss, Rajnath Singh said.
Addressing a meeting organised to mark the 90th birthday of Karpoori Thakur, Rajnath said: “Karpoori’s father earned his living by dressing villagers’ hair even when he had become the chief minister. Narendra Modi hails from a humble tea seller’s family. Both the leaders were born in similar social and family environment.”
Besides Rajnath, almost all the top BJP leaders — Sushil Kumar Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shahnawaz Hussain and Mangal Pandey — equated Thakur, the mentor of chief minister Nitish Kumar and RJD boss Lalu Prasad, with Narendra Modi.
The function at the packed SK Memorial Hall here had several cut-outs of Narendra Modi, unveiling the well-choreographed strategy of the party to boost its prime ministerial candidate’s acceptance among the extremely backward classes (EBCs) and other backward classes (OBCs), together constituting about 60 per cent of the state’s electorate.
Thakur enjoyed the support of both the EBCs and OBCs. The BJP, still confined to upper castes comprising about 13 per cent of the state’s population and a section of the non-Muslim business community, virtually tried to “hijack” Thakur to make inroads into the strong social base — the forte of Nitish.
Referring to the tales about Karpoori that Nitish and Lalu usually reel off in their speeches, Rajnath said: “Karpooriji was the chief minister but still too poor to marry off his daughter in a decent way. When some of his ministerial colleagues and officials approached him offering financial help, Karpoori had said: ‘Poor Karpoori Thakur’s daughter is getting married… not Bihar chief minister’s daughter. Please don’t interfere in my personal and family affairs’.”
The BJP leaders went as far as rejecting Lalu and Nitish as inheritors of Karpoori’s tradition. But they did not mention that Karpoori was a critic of the Sangh Parivar’s antipathy for the minority community. They also did not highlight the fact that he was a secularist, never comfortable with the saffron brigade.