NDA and Grand Alliance engaged in poster wars on Patna streets

A decade ago, a picture in an advertisement made Bihar chief minister cancel a dinner with the BJP top brass in a clear manifestation of his disapproval. It was a picture showing Nitish Kumar with the then Gujarat CM and present Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Cut to present, the two leaders are a version of best friends forever. At all the virtual functions to announce schemes and projects for the poll-bound state, PM Modi has been effusive in his praise for the Bihar CM. The roads are lined with posters of the two leaders who appear comfortable in each other’s company and a ready smile is seen playing on their lips.

PM Modi’s statement that “Nitish jaisa sahyogi ho toh kuch bhi sambhav hai (Anything is possible with a partner like Nitish)” has found a pride of place at the Income Tax roundabout in the city with the pictures of the two leaders, a tagline “Nyay ke saath tarakki, Nitish ki baat pakki (Development with justice, Nitish’s words are a guarantee) underlines the point.”

In another poster, PM Modi is seen describing Nitish Kumar as the ‘maker of modern Bihar’, with pictures of the two leaders on either side of it.

There are also posters attacking the RJD, describing RJD chief Lalu Prasad, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav others for scams and lawlessness. From a bus named ‘loot express’ with pictures of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav and Misa Bharti, the caption says: ‘Ek parvar Bihar par bhar (One family that is burden on Bihar) to ‘Jungle raj’ and ‘Thagbandhan’, there is a lot visible on the streets.

The counters to these happy posters have also emerged, showing PM Modi’s earlier quotes questioning the DNA of Nitish Kumar. Another one says: “Modiji, the mandate of the people was for your party to sit in Opposition. How could then it get into power? “Nitish jaisa sahyogi ho kuch bhi sambhav hai (Anythingis possible with a partner like Nitish),” it says.

Who is getting the posters prepared is neither known nor openly accepted, but the messaging clearly manifests the National Democratic Alliance vs Grand Alliance divide. Some also attribute it to internal divide.

Ahead of BJP’s ‘virtual rally’ addressed by home minister Amit Shah, Patna had witnessed a poster war. Picture of Lalu Prasad flanked by Md Shahabuddin and Raj Ballabh Yadav – all serving jail sentences – with a slogan ‘Kaidi bajaa raha taali, Janata bajao taali’. It was a reply to RJD’s call to oppose BJP’s virtual rally by beating utensils, though JD(U) feigned ignorance about it.

Last year in December, when Kumar set out for his third leg of ‘Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali’ yatra to Kaimur, Gaya and Aurangabad, Patna district administration was busy removing posters attacking him for his stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Who got those posters placed at important locations could not be ascertained, as the opposition parties like the RJD and the Congress denied any knowledge about it.

Political analyst NK Choudhary said that the fight could only get more venomous through banners and posters in the days to come, as this election would not provide opportunities for rallies and public meetings due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“Digital campaigning sounds good, but everyone knows about actual digital penetration and people’s choice to spend time on it when they are struggling with their daily needs,” he added.

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