The Telegraph
Thursday , April 3 , 2014
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Lalu, Sushil balm for red-faced Nitish

Patna, April 2: Call it sympathy or support but what Nitish Kumar got it from Lalu Prasad and Sushil Kumar Modi today is quite unimaginable in the poll season.

Both the leaders have stood by the chief minister in his hour of crisis as protests marked Nitish’s election rallies on Monday.

“Vote ki chot maro unpar jootey chhapal se abhinandan mat kijiye (strike at them with your votes and not hurl shoes at them),” Lalu said today while launching the RJD’s “poll rath” here.

Talking in a lighter vein, Lalu added: “Nitish Kumar ka swagat patthar aur chappal sey ho raha hai. (Nitish Kumar is being welcomed with stones and slippers). But somebody may get hurt. People may show their anger through votes.”

On Monday, Nitish faced hostile crowds in three rallies, including two in his home district of Nalanda where a group of persons hurled stones and slippers in Asthawa. The people were angry that the roads had not been made despite Nitish’s poll promise five years ago. A group of persons also threw slippers at him at Khushrupur as Nitish was about to board the helicopter. On Tuesday, sitting MP Mahabali Singh, the JD(U) candidate from Karakat, was heckled and not allowed to speak in front of Nitish. The JD(U) and even Nitish blamed their political opponents for the “disruptions” caused in the rallies.

Sushil, the former deputy of the chief minister, ridiculed Nitish’s charges that the BJP was behind these disruptions He recalled that during the JP movement, the Congress attributed everything to “foreign hand”.

“The Prime Minister aspirant is having to face opposition in his home district and it indicates his declining popularity,” Modi said.

In the same breath, he added: “However, using stones and slippers for expression of their anger is not allowed in democracy. I appeal to the people to use their votes as a weapon for expressing their anger.”

However, the appeal by Lalu and Sushil not to hurl stones at Nitish does not mean that they have become friendly to each other. Lalu today declared that an “anti-Nitish and anti-Modi” was sweeping across the state. “Bihar is a secular state and we will win all 40 seats. The opinion polls will be proved wrong,” he said. He also certified criminal-turned-politician Reet Lal Yadav and said his former close confidant Ram Kripal Yadav would face the consequence of joining the BJP.

Sushil also made fun of the RJD-Congress alliance. “The Congress does not see Lalu fit to share the stage with Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Our leader, Modi, in his meetings in Bihar has sought support from the RJD voters. The RJD voters should support Modi instead of the Congress-RJD alliance. The Congress keeps insulting Lalu,” he said.

The protests faced by Nitish in public meetings are not the first ones. He faced quite a few violent protests during the Adhikar Rally meetings in 2012, particularly from the contractual teachers. “However, public protests during election meetings are quite worrying,” conceded a JD(U) leader.

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