The BJP-Janata Dal(United) alliance in Bihar had spared no effort to ensure the success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election rally at Patna's Gandhi Maidan today. Posters were put up across the city, and as many as 30 trains and 6,000 buses were booked to make sure that supporters don't face any problems in reaching the venue. Organisers later said that the turnout was in keeping with their expectations, and videos of the event seemed to confirm their claim.
However, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Yadav was not impressed.
"PM Modi, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan used the government machinery at their disposal to draw crowds to Gandhi Maidan, but managed to get only the numbers that come to meet me when I stop my vehicle at a paan shop. Go on then, put some more effort into zooming those cameras," he tweeted today, suggesting that the organisers had used photographic tricks to create the illusion of a good turnout.
Around 1.2 lakh people attended the event, which -- while being a respectable figure -- is nowhere near the number Lalu Yadav drew to his Garib Rally in 1995.
This was the first time Mr Kumar shared a stage with PM Modi since May 2009, and the first joint rally by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) since November 2005. The Prime Minister had last addressed a rally at Gandhi Maidan in October 2013, in the run-up to the last Lok Sabha election.
In the days preceding the rally, Lalu Yadav's son -- RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav -- had dared the Chief Minister to demand special status for the state from PM Modi. "Modi had promised special category status for Bihar, but until now, the promise has not been fulfilled. Nitishji, tomorrow is the right time for your leader to formally announce special category status for Bihar from the dais of the Sankalp rally," he said.
At the rally, the Prime Minister responded to the accusation by underscoring all the ways in which the centre had helped the people of the state. "I am happy that Nitish Babu worries about the poor, and has taken Bihar out of its old ways to give it a new direction," he said, complimenting the state government.
(With inputs from Agencies)