A "poster war" erupted in Bihar on Tuesday as the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal countered a recent slogan by the ruling Janata Dal-United that claimed Nitish Kumar was doing "just fine" as the chief minister, and there was no need for a leadership change ahead of the assembly polls next year.
"Kyon na karen vichaar, Bihar hai bimaar (why not think for a change when Bihar is sick) screamed a poster put up by the RJD at its state headquarters on the Birchand Patel Marg in Patna. The party also came out with several verses on social media, alleging that the state was in a bad shape under Nitish Kumar and there was an urgent need for leadership change.
The RJD's poster came up a day after people noticed that the JDU had, at its own headquarters right across the road, put up two gigantic banners proclaiming "Kyon karen vichaar, theeke to hain Nitish Kumar".
Roughly translated, it means "Where's the need to think (about political alternatives) when Nitish Kumar is doing just fine".
The slogan was the latest in a series of catchy one-liners the JDU has come up with to capture public imagination and eyeballs.
Two such older posters with slogans -- Bihar mein bahar hai Nitish Kumar hai (Bihar blooms, the state wants only Nitish Kumar) and Sachcha hai, achha hai, chalo Nitish ke saath chalo (he is good, he is honest, let us go with Nitish) -- can be still found inside the JDU office premises.
The move is being seen as an attempt by the JDU, a party without much organizational depth which banks heavily on the charisma of Nitish Kumar, also its national president, to suggest that despite the growing clout of ally BJP, the party still saw Mr Kumar as the NDA's best bet in the state.
However, senior BJP leader C P Thakur, a former state party chief and a colleague of Mr Kumar in the erstwhile Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, had a different take on the slogan.
"I do not know why the JDU has used the expression 'theeke hai' for Nitish Kumar. It gives an impression that he has been just okay when his performance as chief minister has been truly commendable. The party has a right to coin its own slogans, but it could have come up with something better," CP Thakur told reporters in Patna.
JDU sources said on condition of anonymity that the slogan was coined by a senior office-bearer of the party who does not have "much aptitude for political strategy".
It was unlike the 2015 assembly polls when Prashant Kishor, now the party's national vice-president, had got his team to come up with "Bihar mein bahar hai, Nitish Kumar hai" which, rendered to acclaimed composer Sneha Khanwalkars tune, had worked wonders for the party when it had hit a rough patch, he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, a senior BJP leader known to be close to Nitish Kumar, reminded on Twitter assembly elections in the state are more than a year away.
"This is not the time when the NDA would like to be in the poll mode...... there is neither any doubt nor any infighting over the issue of leadership in our camp."
Sushil Modi had, in a rare gesture, said in the state assembly during the Monsoon session last month that the ruling coalition would contest the assembly polls under Nitish Kumar's leadership.
Several hardliners in the BJP have shown the inclination for asserting the party's supremacy in Bihar after its phenomenal growth under the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine.
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