October 25, 2015 6:06:43 pm
The BJP on Sunday began an overt attempt to capture the Extremely Backward Classes vote in the Bihar elections, with Narendra Modi describing himself as being from an “extremely backward” background.
The Prime Minister was speaking at Bihar Sharif, headquarters of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s home district Nalanda.
Modi broached the topic by asking his audience whether they knew why Kumar was obsessed with him. “I am not the one who took away the plate after inviting someone for a meal,” Modi said, referring to the cancelled dinner that brought the Modi-Kumar rivalry out in the open.
The PM answered by claiming that Kumar was obsessed with him because he too, wanted to be Prime Minister: “He is worried that he has been doing this forward-backward divisive politics for 30 years and out of nowhere this extremely backward….yeh Pradhan Mantri kaise ban gaya?”
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had not used Modi’s caste identity explicitly, but voters of certain EBC groups and “vaish” communities in the state had identified with his OBC status. The PM is from the Ghanchi caste, whose people were oil pressers by occupation. On Sunday, the party went out of its way to address the EBCs: a speaker before Modi’s arrival – introduced as the messiah of ati pichadas – too, reminded the crowd that the PM was from an ati pichada family. The BJP even summoned Jharkhand health minister Ramkumar Chandravanshi, who said in his speech that he is from a caste that is on Bihar’s EBC list.
The EBCs are one of the few groups that are yet to make up their minds this election and they have an important say in constituencies going to poll in the third and fourth phases. “….Yeh chaiwale ka beta, ati pichade parivar mein paida hua gareeb ma ka beta Pradhan Mantri kaise ban gaya?”asked Modi.
With Union minister Giriraj Singh by his side, the PM spent most of the time attacking Nitish Kumar for a video clip. The PM used the Lok-tantrik prefix for the Bihar CM at least eight times: an apparent reference to the video, which has Kumar meeting a faith healer, who shouts” Nitish Zindabad” and “Lalu Murdabad.”
“He thinks only tantriks can save Bihar,” said Modi. He came back to the theme later, claiming the tantrik is the fourth ally in the Grand Alliance. “We don’t want jantar mantar of the 18th century, Bihari youth want computers to move into the modern age,” said Modi.
Without mentioning the media, the PM accused that Delhi-based people were working alongside the Grand Alliance. “This is the first election where 80 percent of it has been outsourced by this bade bhai and chhote bhai. It has been outsourced to Delhi, where people sitting in air-conditioned rooms write stories and peddle fear and lies,” said Modi. The BJP believes that Delhi-based media has been unfair to it, predicting an NDA defeat in the elections.
The PM said that a BJP government would not change the reservation policy, pointing out that he was Gujarat CM for 14 years and did not change it. “Babasaheb Ambedkar gave it to you. I will not take it away; Atalji’s government did not take it away,” said Modi.
Modi taunted Lalu Prasad sons’ education by claiming they would not even be able to comprehend the size of the financial package he had announced for Bihar: “Ask Laluji’s yuvraj if he knows how to write Rs. 1,25,000 crore on a sheet of paper. If he doesn’t, how can he spend the money I gave Bihar?”
He retaliated to CM Kumar’s comments that he is an outsider: “You made the Bihari youth turn Bahari with your policies over the last 30 years.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.