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BJP mascot makes chai-wallahs’ day

Patna, Feb. 12: Gopal Prasad Yadav fumbled a bit when he raised the microphone to speak to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at 7 pm today.

The sight of “the chai-wala” seated comfortably, sipping tea in Ahmedabad, didn’t quite help Gopal, though he has been serving tea for over 15 years now in Patna. “Pranam sir (Greetings sir)..,” Yadav managed. After a pause, he started again, only to stop mid-way, as Modi replied, “Pranam bhaiya. (Greetings brother).” He stopped again for a while before saying, “Sir, Bihar ke taraf se sawaal poochna tha sir. Bihar me bohot gareebi or berozgari hai sir. Kuch vikas kijiye. (Sir, there is a lot of poverty and unemployment in Bihar. Please do something about developing the state).

There was a pause again, during which some 300 people, there to stare at their faces on television, began cheering.

Modi replied: “It is a fact that development has not been upto the mark in eastern Indian states. Bihar comprises of very talented people, many holding top positions in the bureaucracy. The condition of Bihar at present is so only because of ‘ku-shashan (bad governance)’. In the last 20 years, the state didn’t see any big power plant coming up though the required coal linkage is not very far away.”

No sooner had Modi referred to Biharis as a talented lot than the crowd began raising slogans of “Narendra Modi Zindabad.” Yadav was the sixth person to ask a question to Modi at the BJP’s “Chai pe Charcha with NaMo” to make their prime ministerial candidate connect with people.

The programme today took place at 1,000 locations including 300 cities. In Bihar, the event took place at 36 tea stalls in major districts like Patna, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur. However, a direct interaction with Modi was allowed at just Patna and Muzaffarpur.

“I am providing tea for free today, but the party will pay me. It is a proud feeling and I feel like the Prime Minister myself,” he told The Telegraph.

“This is for the first time that interaction on such a large scale is taking place in the country with different forms of media and social networking sites connected,” Modi said.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar did not let go of an oppurtunity to make a tongue-in-cheek attack on the social media about the “Chai pe Charcha”. His Facebook profile read, “We are doing ‘Kaam ki charcha’ rather than ‘Chai pe Charcha’. Those who have all the time to boast about themselves are more into ‘Chai pe charcha’.”

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad called himself the real chai seller. “I am the real chai seller. Modi is selling poison,” the former chief minister said.