Grand alliance: Old Lalu bluster and pale Nitish shadow

Aug 12 2014, 09:03 IST
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Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar at the rally in Hajipur, Bihar, on Monday. (Express photo) Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar at the rally in Hajipur, Bihar, on Monday. (Express photo)
SummaryLalu Prasad talks of Narendra Modi 'jinx': 'house collapse, Munde death'; Nitish Kumar smiles as chhota bhai

THIS is their second and last stop on Day 1 of their joint campaign for the 10 Assembly bypolls ten days away and its clear: it is bada bhai (elder brother) Lalu Prasad Yadavs stage and chhota bhai (younger brother) Nitish Kumar shares it.

Its not just that hes clearly the elder in the big brother-younger brother by-play that makes Lalu own the stage in their first joint rally in over two decades since they broke up. Its the way he strides in late surrounded by gun-toting commandos Nitish stands up to welcome him and be hugged by him and speaks last. Its the manner in which Lalu sits astride his chair, as on a throne, while Nitish seems to subside into his.

Lalu is imperious, now admonishing a noisy section of the crowd that has assembled in the dusty grounds of a local school, and then cutting short a speakers lengthy introductory remarks, commanding him to keep it short. His is the tone of the emperor who brooks no dissent, not a recently jailed politician who has lost his parliamentary seat, is disqualified from contesting elections and whose party has lost successive assembly and Lok Sabha polls in the state he once ruled.

This is Lalus show in a more significant way. He speaks after Nitish but it is almost as if he has set the tone for Nitishs speech.

Lalu speaks about how India needs to be saved from Narendra Modi and how he and Nitish will do it together. Lalu pledges to fight many evils this is a battle between mandal and kamandal he says, while also railing against social media and the internet, FDI in railways and insurance, price rise and the bullet train. For him, all evils converge in the Modi government, which is endangering the country.

It was sworn in at the Centre, he taunts, at the inauspicious hour of 6.15 pm, a time when mothers urge their children to keep awake, be watchful, not give in to sleep. It has presided over a series of disasters ever since, by his count, a building has collapsed in Chennai, students were swept away by the river waters in Uttarakhand and Gopinath Munde died.

In his speech, just like Lalu, Nitish, too, paints a battle for the states assembly bypolls being fought by an allegedly sinister Centre on one side he

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