| Lalu Prasad |
The RJD’s decision to postpone its proposed rally at Gandhi Maidan on February 23 is being seen largely as a compromise to appease the LJP, which has organised a gathering on the previous day.
“We have decided to postpone the rally because the LJP would organise a gathering the previous day. Another reason is that our party president Lalu Prasad has to tour the state extensively,” said RJD MP Ram Kripal Yadav, adding: “Maybe the rally would be held later after consulting party workers and leaders.”
Sources, however, said the RJD rally is as good as cancelled. “After February this year, the code of conduct would be in force once dates for the Lok Sabha elections are announced,” said a party leader. RJD chief Lalu Prasad said it would be difficult for women and children to attend the rally. “It will be better if we hold the meetings near their homes,” he said, adding that he and his supporters believed in a kano kaan drive (whisper campaign) rather than holding massive rallies. He said Rahul Gandhi was a far better prime ministerial candidate than Narendra Modi. “This time my supporters would go from door to door to seek votes,” he said on Thursday. The rally was supposed to be a pre-election exercise. Sources said the RJD has postponed the public meeting to appease its sulking ally, the LJP, which has been complaining that its proposed rally on February 22 would be disturbed owing to the RJD’s rally.
LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan has refused to give his commitment for an alliance with the RJD after a few leaders of the latter made statements about the disproportionate number of seats given to him under the alliance.
“Our rally would have been compared with the BJP’s Hunkar Rally last October. If a smaller crowd compared to BJP’s rally turns up, it will send a bad message,” said an RJD leader. He pointed out that holding a rally needs time and enormous resources to bring in large crowds. “Making arrangement for transportation, accommodation and food requires hard work and a lot of money. Right now, the party feels pumping all its resources into a rally would not yield desired results,” he added.
The RJD, during its days in power, was known to hold massive rallies at Gandhi Maidan as a pre-election exercise. However, after losing power, holding rallies have become difficult. “It’s easier to hold rallies being in the ruling party. One does not have to worry about the resources as the government machinery comes in help,” remarked a former RJD minister.
At the RJD’s last gathering at Gandhi Maidan — Parivartan Rally — held in the summer of last year, Lalu’s rivals had jeered at him for failing to bring in crowds.