The Telegraph
Thursday , April 3 , 2014
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Green rath response to saffron
- Lalu rolls out hi-tech campaign chariots to counter NaMo vehicles of BJP

Lalu Prasad’s RJD is ready to counter the BJP’s hi-tech campaign on wheels, spoke for spoke.

In response to the BJP’s much-hyped saffron NaMo (Narendra Modi) raths (chariots), the RJD has come up with similar hi-tech campaign vehicles. Equipped with LED screens, sound system, attractive lighting and glossy flex, the green raths have a platform for the party leaders to address public meetings.

Two have started rolling. One among them is campaigning for Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti, the RJD candidate from the Pataliputra constituency. The other was flagged off by Lalu on Wednesday from the party office on Beer Chand Patel Marg.

Like NaMo raths, the RJD’s campaign vehicles play recorded messages of the party chief, Lalu Prasad. They blurt out Bhojpuri folk songs as well.

Shailesh Kumar, the husband of Misa, said: “This is the first time that we have come up with campaign vehicles having LED screens. These television screen-fitted campaign vehicles are good crowd-pullers. So, we thought to intensify the campaign trail using them.

At present, the party has ordered 27 such vehicles — one vehicle each in the 27 constituencies the RJD candidates are contesting,” he added.

Shailesh said the cost of customising each vehicle was around Rs 1 lakh.

Veteran RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui claimed that the new hi-tech campaign vehicles showcase how technology has taken over the traditional means of electioneering in the recent years.

“In our times, we used to walk door-to-door to seek votes. I believe that provides a more personal approach for campaign trail. But now more and more parties are coming up with technology-based electioneering tools to attract more and more people and convey the messages to the masses,” said Siddiqui.

The BJP has a fleet of 250 NaMo raths fitted with large LED screens, sound system and GPS device. They stand at a place for around 30-45 minutes, when recordings of Modi’s earlier rallies, including those at Muzaffarpur and Gandhi Maidan, are played. The raths have proved to be quite a crowd-puller on thoroughfares.

The state BJP spokesperson and newly elected MLC, Sanjay Prakash Mayukh, said: “The NaMo raths have been extremely successful.”

Reacting to the campaign-on-wheels strategy of the BJP and the RJD, the JD(U) said both the parties were following the similar plan of action because they shared the same frenzy.

“One party is communal, while the other aims at making social division. That is why both the parties are following the same modus operandi in electioneering. We do not have any plan for coming up with such audio-visual-based campaign vehicles,” the JD(U) spokesperson, Neeraj Kumar, said.

Congress also does not have any “wheel-based” campaign plan.

“Congress has never done any rath-based campaign trail as of now, nor do we believe in such a show of technology. Door-to-door campaigning and personal appearances have been the most effective way of seeking votes from electors. Thus, the state unit of the Congress does not have any plan for coming up with such raths, said Congress leader Uma Kant Singh.

“If any local party worker wants to do such kind of campaigning on personal level, he/she can do the same with prior permission of the Election Commission,” he added.

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