Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad, Sonia Gandhi to Address Mega Rally in Patna

PATNA: At a massive rally at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad are launching their campaign for the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections today. Their ally, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, is sharing stage with them.

The mega rally, being attended by an estimated 1.5 lakh people from all parts of Bihar, is the first big show of unity after Mr Kumar and Mr Prasad joined hands last year, to defeat the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is calling it a ‘Swabhiman Rally’ (a rally for self-respect). The name plays on the focal point of the Rashtriya Janata Dal-Janata Dal (United) political maneuvers in Bihar so far, where they have attacked the BJP for what they allege are repeated insults to Bihari pride, especially by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the three ‘Parivartan rallies’ he has already addressed in the state.

In order to make the rally a huge success, RJD chief Lalu Prasad addressed meetings in rural areas of districts close to Patna, asking his supporters to attend the rally. Mr Kumar visited half-a-dozen districts, including his home district Nalanda in the past week, laying foundation stones and launching projects.

The JD(U) and the RJD will contest 100 seats each in the 243-member Bihar Assembly elections, scheduled to take place in September-October. The Congress will contest on 40 seats and the remaining three will be contested by Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party.

Meanwhile, to take on the Nitish-Lalu alliance in Bihar, the BJP has put up their hoardings right next to those put up by the JD(U), to counter claims being made by the state government on various issues.

The BJP hoardings have been strategically placed near Mr Kumar’s posters which talk of good governance.

Taking a dig at the state government’s claims, the hoardings mention the youth migrating to other states in search of jobs, deteriorating law and order situation, and poor condition of patients due to non-availability of medicines at health centres in the state.