In a Bihar election already replete with plot twists and drama, Union Minister Anurag Thakur borrowed from Gabbar Singh - the iconic villain from the 1975 blockbuster "Sholay" - on Tuesday to warn of a "return to a regime of terror and fear" if people voted for the opposition alliance.
Mr Thakur, who made headlines in February for allegedly making hate speeches prior to the Delhi violence, urged Bihar voters to be wary of "those who believe in perpetrating massacres" and wanted to push the state back to an era of caste tension and social discrimination.
"So ja bete nahi to Gabbar Singh aa jayega (go to sleep, my child, or Gabbar Singh will come). Mothers who have seen the jungle raj days in Bihar please tell your children, especially the youth, to cast votes carefully on polling day... otherwise they (the opposition RJD), who ran a regime of terror and fear, may return to power," Mr Thakur was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
In the film Gabbar Singh (played by Amjad Khan) voices this dialogue as a cautionary tale to those who dared to oppose him. The full line goes: "Yahan se pachas pachas kos door gaon mein jab bachcha raat ko rota hai, toh maa kehti hai bete so ja... so jaa nahi toh Gabbar Singh aa jayega".
Roughly translated, he says: "All around, for 50 km, when a child cries in the village the mother says, 'go to sleep, my child, or Gabbar Singh will come'".
Mr Thakur today lashed out at the opposition's mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), describing them as "depressed and confused" and pointing to violent caste-based clashes and killings in 2005, the year the RJD slipped from power after a fractured verdict in the first round of elections.
"I just want to ask the RJD and its leader, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, why did he align with CPI(ML), tukde-tukde gangs, or those who believe in perpetrating massacres?" the Union Minister asked.
The RJD is the ruling JDU-BJP's principal challenger in this election, albeit with Lalu Yadav's son, Tejashwi Yadav, at the head of an alliance that includes the Congress and Left parties.
Both of the latter parties have been frequently dismissed as part of "tukde-tukde gangs" - a term used by right-wing parties to attack Left-backed groups and their supporters.
"Do they want to bring the jungle raj days back in Bihar. Do they want the state to witness bloodshed once again?" Mr Thakur asked, urging people to vote for the BJP-led NDA government.
Crime rates have become a key issue as Tejashwi Yadav and LJP's Chirag Paswan - who yesterday said "jail is the right place" for the Chief Minister - have attacked Nitish Kumar on this point.
Today's pitch by Mr Thakur also included a reference to the "double engine" model of the BJP - where the same party is in power at the centre and state - and one that Mr Yadav has rubbished, pointing to large-scale unemployment as one of his criticisms.
He pointed an increase in per capita income over the past 15 years as proof of that development. He claimed that the per capital income of Bihar had risen from Rs 8,000 in 2005 to Rs 43,000 in 2020, although this is still some way from the national average.
Bihar votes over three phases that start Wednesday, with results on November 10.
With input from PTI