Patna, Jun 7 (PTI) The Rashtriya Janata Dal was on Sunday left grumbling over the ''virtual rally'' of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who interacted with BJP workers in Bihar, hours after it made an attempt to steal a march over the saffron party in the battle for eyeballs by getting its cadre across the state to bang utensils and blow conches.
Programmes were also organised as a counter to Shah''s ''Jan Samvad'' by a number of other parties opposed to the BJP-led NDA though disunity, especially within the five-party Grand Alliance headed by the RJD, was all too evident.
Titled ''Garib Adhikar Diwas'' (people''s rights day), the event, which took place five hours before Shah''s video conference began at 4 pm, offered an opportunity to the workers of the RJD to wring themselves out of the ennui brought about by two months of inactivity caused by the lockdown.
Tejashwi Yadav, younger son and heir apparent to party supremo Lalu Prasad, took charge in front of the residence of his mother and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi where he was accompanied, besides the mother and scores of party supporters, by maverick elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav, who is known for frequent run-ins with the younger sibling.
Besides Rabri Devi''s 10, Circular Road residence, right across the street from 1, Anney Marg, which is the official residence of the chief minister, RJD supporters staged similar demonstrations at a number of places in the city, including the residence of health minister and senior BJP leader Mangal Pandey whom the opposition has been blaming for alleged mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The once-mighty opposition party which has been in a state of steep decline since losing power in 2005, barring a reprieve it got in 2015 when it fought the election in alliance with the JD(U) headed by Prasad''s arch rival Nitish Kumar, succeeded in galvanising its workers across the state who stood in circles drawn on the ground to ensure social distancing, wearing masks and clanged plates with spoons or whatever objects came in handy.
Apparently drawing inspiration from their jailed founding president''s penchant for optics, workers in Darbhanga district stripped down to their waists as they went about with their ''thaali peeto'' programme, saying it was to draw the attention of the government towards the hardships wrought by the lockdown on the poor, especially migrant workers who have come back to Bihar from far-off places.
Rohini Acharya, a daughter of the proverbial ''first couple'' of the RJD, who had so far remained just a doting elder sister to her brothers unlike the eldest Misa Bharti who is active in politics, expressed solidarity with the cause by posting a footage of herself beating a brass plate with a spoon at her Singapore residence, where Tejashwi is known to make frequent jaunts.
The event coincided with a ''Vishwasghaat Dhikkar Diwas'' (curse for breach of trust day) organised by local leaders of the Left parties CPI, CPI(M) and CPI(ML) -- in Patna.
Pappu Yadav, a muscleman-turned-politician who is a bete noire of Tejashwi Yadav and has floated his own outfit Jan Adhikar Party, launched an online campaign ''Bihar Bacha Lo Mauka Hai'' (save Bihar, there is still time) and came out with scathing attacks on Shah, besides Chief Minister Nitish Kumar whose resignation he demanded alleging that the state government had shown apathy towards students and migrants while they were stuck elsewhere during lockdown.
RJD''s allies in the state -- Congress, RLSP, HAM and VIP -- remained uninvited to the event, though Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief Upendra Kushwaha and AICC media panelist and Bihar MLC Prem Chandra Mishra came out with statements dubbing Shah''s address as "devoid of substance" and "demonstration of the BJP''s deep pockets".
The outrage displayed by Tejashwi Yadav, named by the RJD as its chief ministerial candidate for the assembly polls, when he spoke to journalists earlier in the day and called the rally "celebration of miseries suffered by people", ended up sullenly by the evening.
Falling shy of coming out with a full-fledged statement in reaction to Shah''s speech which was peppered with snide references to RJD, Lalu Prasad, the fodder scam and the lawlessness and economic stagnation that has come to be associated with the period when the party was in power, Yadav came out with a sullen tweet, in rhyming verses, expressing hope that the state''s poor will not fall for the NDA which could "hold thousands of digital rallies thereafter".
On the numerous WhatsApp groups run by the party, it also prominently shared a tweet by newly-elected Rajya Sabha member Amarendra Dhari Singh, who alleged that "no Bhumihar" shared the dais with Shah in Delhi or with BJP leaders who had assembled at the state headquarters here a curious attempt by the RJD to win friends among an upper caste which it has been most averse to and who are largely seen as supporters of the saffron party.
After riding high for long by virtue of the formidable ''MY'' combination engineered by Lalu Prasad, the party has grown uncertain of its hold over the Muslims and the Yadavs, especially since the Lok Sabha polls last year when it drew a blank. PTI NAC ACD ABH ABH
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI