Patna: The NDA's "Sankalp rally" at Gandhi Maidan on Sunday was all about assertions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "56-inch chest." The underlying message from the rally was that the NDA will use the India-Pakistan standoff as an issue in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.
Union minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan said to the large crowd at the venue, "The way the prime minister handled the terror attack in Pulwama, I will say that his chest is not of 56 inches but of 156 inches." Not a single NDA leader who spoke at the rally missed out on applauding Modi for taking on terrorism.
The Patna rally signifies shifting of gears by the BJP. Modi did not disappoint the crowd, as he attacked 21 Opposition parties for holding a meeting to censure his government amid tensions between the armed forces of India and Pakistan.
Modi told the crowd, "They were demoralising the armed forces. Their images were broadcast on television in Pakistan, and they were applauded in that country...The chowkidar is fully alert in terms of ensuring the country's security and battling corruption." Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar also congratulated Modi for his "appropriate response" to the Pulwama terror attack.
However, the NDA's promise to make the Sankalp rally the mother of all rallies did not work, as the crowds were spread over only half of the 62-acre Gandhi Maidan. There were more of the JD(U)'s green flags than the BJP's saffron ones.
BJP minister Pramod Kumar, who hails from West Champaran, said, "There was uncertainty over the rally due to the war-like situation at the borders. We thought that the event would be cancelled. I started making preparations for the rally quite late."
The NDA has been seeking votes on the basis of the law and order situation and a 11.03 GSDP growth in the state. However, after the standoff with Pakistan, the fight against terrorism has become the priority. State BJP president Nityanand Rai remarked, "Terrorism is a major issue, and Modi is the only person who can fight it."
Not surprisingly, posters and banners put up in Patna after the surgical strike by the Indian Air Force highlighted the "56-inch chest" of the prime minister.
Prior to the rally, the RJD had been questioning Modi and Nitish Kumar for failing to give Bihar special status, and for failing to combat crime and corruption. On Sunday, a post by Lalu Prasad Yadav read, "I pull crowds like the one at the NDA rally even when I stand outside a paan shop."
However, RJD MLAs are concerned. An MLA from the party who hails from Vaishali district remarked, "Before the Indian Air Force's surgical strike, when I visited villages which had voted for the NDA in 2014 and taunted them about the 56-inch chest, they remained silent. But after the strike in Pakistan, the same people began to taunt me. They said that Modi ji is a man who has the guts to fight terrorism."
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Updated Date: Mar 04, 2019 09:26:33 IST