“What do you get if you add zero and zero? What do you get if you multiply zero with zero?” asked Upendra Kushwaha, Union minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, while canvassing for BJP candidate Niranjan Ram at Mohania, where Assembly bypolls are slated for August 21.
“Zero,” the crowd cheered as Kushwaha, flanked by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, tried to draw an analogy about the JD(U)'s Nitish Kumar and RJD leader Lalu Prasad coming together.
The BJP is not the only one deriding this opportunistic alliance of the two erstwhile Janata leaders. Politically conscious people here are reading between the lines too. “Lalu has actually fooled Nitish.
He knows for sure he cannot contest any election for another six years following his conviction in fodder scam. So the best way to promote his wife and daughter is to ride piggyback on Nitish.
But Lalu has perhaps forgotten that you cannot fool all the people all the time,” Deobrat Singh Kushwaha, a local resident, told Deccan Herald.
On paper, the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance looks quite strong, and the parties' combined strength could give the BJP nightmares any day.
But much to the glee of the saffron camp, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, supposed to be a Congress heavyweight here in the Sasaram region, is not seeking votes for the JD(U) candidate Chandrashekhar Paswan.
Reason: Chandrashekhar is nephew of Sasaram MP Chedi Paswan, who defeated Meira in the Lok Sabha election. “Nitish committed a blunder by giving ticket to the kin of Chedi Paswan, who had trounced Meira in May. How can she now campaign for Chandrashekhar Paswan?” argued a senior Congress leader.
The Mohania Assembly segment is part of the Sasaram Lok Sabha constituency. Nearly 20 km from Mohania is Barauhli village, where marginal farmer Baidyanth Singh is all praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP candidate Niranjan Ram.
“Ram is a local leader who has always stood by us through thick and thin,” said Singh. “Such is Ram’s popularity that even a few Muslims of my locality will this time vote for the BJP,” he added. But how come such a tectonic shift in the Muslims’ stand, particularly when the two self-styled champions of secularism have joined hands?
“Lalu used to always say that if Narendra Modi came to power, there would be riots everywhere. But here all of us are living in peace and harmony. Secular leaders should stop their misinformation campaign. We people can’t be deceived by anyone any more,” said Singh.