The Jan Vishwas rally marked the end of Tejashwi’s 10-day Jan Vishwas Yatra (march), which began on February 20, a few weeks after CM Kumar resigned from the Mahagathbandhan and rejoined the NDA.
The Jan Vishwas rally marked the end of Tejashwi’s 10-day Jan Vishwas Yatra (march), which began on February 20, a few weeks after CM Kumar resigned from the Mahagathbandhan and rejoined the NDA.Image credit- Tejashwi Yadav X handle

‘PM’s a Factory of Lies’, ‘BJP Isn’t a Washing Machine But Dustbin’ and Jobs: What Tejashwi Yadav Said at Patna Rally

The Jan Vishwas rally hosted by RJD turned out to be the first major push for the INDIA alliance in 2024 in the Hindi belt.

New Delhi: The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is a party of the BAAP, said Tejashwi Yadav, amid thunderous applause, while addressing a mega rally at jam packed Gandhi Maidan in Bihar’s capital of Patna on March 3.

The new acronym coined by the young leader ahead of this year’s general elections stands for ‘Bahujan’ (marginalised), ‘Aghra’ (‘upper’ castes), ‘Aadhi Aabadi’ (half of the population — women) and ‘Poors’.

A sizable throng attended the huge rally organized by the INDIA alliance — a coalition of the RJD, the Congress and the CPI-ML (Liberation) and other Left parties in the state.

“The RJD belongs to BAAP in addition to being the party of MY,” said the Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, attempting to go beyond the MY equation.

For a long time, Tejashwi has worked to transform the RJD into a party inclusive of all castes and creeds. When he was running for chief minister and as a Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) campaigner in the 2020 Bihar Assembly elections, he claimed that the RJD is a party of “A to Z”.

To understand the equation, let’s go back to history.

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad had come up with the MY formula that stood for Muslim and Yadav, to help him seize power in 1990. The violent Bhagalpur riots in Bihar had occurred the previous year — resulting in the deaths of over a thousand people, a large number of them were Muslims. 

Because the Congress, under the leadership of then Chief Minister Satyendra Narayan Sinha, was unable to handle the sectarian violence, the community felt deceived. After the rioting, Sinha did not even go to Bhagalpur. 

Thus, the Muslims, who make up about 17.7% of the state’s population, were waiting for a voice, and Lalu, a dynamic leader who had participated in the socialist politics of the Janata Dal and students’ movement led by Jai Prakash Narayan, was the right person at the right moment.

Lalu’s winning MY mix, with Yadavs who account for 14.266% backing him, saw the RJD remain in power till 2005. The RJD chief further cemented his standing with Muslims in 1990 when he put an end to LK Advani's Rath Yatra to garner support for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya by arresting the then BJP’s firebrand leader in Samastipur (a district in the state).

Now, come back to Sunday’s Jan Vishwas rally.

‘BJP Isn’t a Washing Machine, But a Dustbin’ 

Continuing to launch a frontal attack on the prime minister at a time when many Opposition leaders are thought to be plagued by the prospect of being charged with corruption by Central investigative agencies, Tejashwi said, “Modi ji is a master of fabrication, and his BJP is a dumpster — which is full of other party’s trash.”

“People describe your BJP as a washing machine where tainted leaders get laundered. However, the BJP is not really a washing machine, but a dustbin to hold garbage or trash discarded by other parties. This rubbish party is opposed by my RJD, which stands for rights, employment and progress,” he said.

He asked Modi to see and hear him out loud and clear. 

“Modi ji, please clean your spectacles and keep your ears open. Millions of impoverished and marginalised people were freed from slavery by my father, who also gave them freedom and a voice,” he claimed.

During his time as the Railway Minister, he continued to list out his father’s contributions, the Railways made a profit of Rs 90,000 crores. 

“Wagon factories were opened in Bihar. In order to provide jobs for potters, he introduced clay cups to serve tea in trains. He regularised the services of coolies,” he said, asking the prime minister to talk about the achievements of the Indian Railway in the past 10 years.

His every sentence garnered chants and claps.

Tejashwi’s no-holds-barred missile of words came in response to Modi’s public address on March 2 at Begusarai and Aurangabad had targeted the former, saying the RJD leader avoids talking about his father.

“Why does shy away from talking about the acts of his father (Lalu Yadav who has been convicted by a Special CBI court in fodder scam and is out on bail on health grounds)?” Modi had enquired.

Lalu’s term as chief minister is frequently referred to by the BJP as “jungle raaj” (the regime that allegedly made the state a den of extortions, abductions, murders, anarchy and rapes).

The PM’s rallies were attended by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who also heads his Janata Dal (United), and his new deputy from the BJP, Samrat Choudhary, among others.

The RJD leader said his father braved all the hardships and torments in order to fight the Sangh Parivar (the Hindu supremacist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS). 

“The ED (Enforcement Directorate) and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) have sent notices to Rahul ji and Akhilesh ji. I am one of many family members under investigation by the authorities. However, I promise to fight.I refuse to fall in line,” he said.

During his brief time as Bihar’s deputy chief, Yadav took credit for giving young people jobs and promised that he would keep raising the issue of unemployment. He also stated unequivocally that the BJP is his main political opponent.

From Social Justice to Economic Justice  

Moving beyond RJD’s trademark of “samajik nayay” (social justice), he talked about “arthik nyay” (economic justice). He spoke of R for rights, J for jobs and D for development as the meaning of the RJD.

Nitish Kumar used the phrase economic development along with social justice shortly after taking over office of the chief minister in 2005.

“I made a reluctant chief minister (a swipe at Nitish Kumar, who recently left the INDIA alliance) distribute over 2 lakh appointment letters in the same Gandhi Maidan. I had pledged during my 2020 election campaigns to give 10 lakh employment. But Nitish ji shouted at me, asking, ‘Where are we going to get the money from? Shall I arrange it from my dad’s house? This isn’t feasible.’ Do you recall it?” Tejashwi enquired. 

In response, the crowd roared, “Tejashwi Yadav, Zindabad.”

Soon after switching the side from the NDA to Mahagathbandhan (the RJD, the Congress and the Left combine) in August 2022, Nitish declared in his Independence Day speech, at the same Gandhi Maidan, that he would carry out Tejashwi’s pledge to create roughly 10 lakh jobs. During its 17 months in office, the alliance administration appointed roughly 4.5 lakh people to various positions.

Since the 2020 elections, Tejashwi’s campaign has focused heavily on employment. The fact that Modi had broken his pledge to create two crore jobs a year in addition to increasing the minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural products by 50% and tripling farmers’ income by 2022 was the reason behind his label of Modi as a “factory of lies”.

“Modi ji, who has previously broken several of his promises, is now referring to a ‘Modi ki Guarantee’. What guarantee is he referring to?” asked Tejashwi.

He questioned, “Will he (Modi) guarantee the stay of my uncle (Tejashwi refers to Nitish as ‘uncle’) with him?”

Like 2020, Tejashwi is apparently eager to make employment the main focus of his party’s campaign in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.

Compared to his criticism of Modi, Tejashwi was less harsh on Nitish. “My uncle left us behind. However, I don’t mind because I respect him and I will continue to do so. He is a senior citizen. I am sending him my best regards,” he said.

It is too early to tell if Tejashwi would prove to have Lalu’s ability to mesmerise the masses and take on political opponents in the Parliament and on the streets despite the fact that he has attempted to equal his father’s rhetorical gift.

The Jan Vishwas rally marked the end of Tejashwi’s 10-day Jan Vishwas Yatra (march), which began on February 20, a few weeks after CM Kumar resigned from the Mahagathbandhan and rejoined the NDA.

Over its 3,500-kilometer journey, the march saw an unforeseen huge number of people. It passed through the regions thought to be the party’s strongholds.

It was an attempt to establish INDIA in the Hindi belt. Lalu Yadav also gave his now-rare speech in public.

At a time when Modi’s BJP is attempting to capitalise Ram temple and growing Hindutva, the Hindi belt is being portrayed as INDIA block’s weak point. This is the coalition’s first major gathering of the year due to the articulate expression of aggressive ideas from a different perspective, emphasizing jobs, economic improvement and discontent with Modi’s pledges and new slogans.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rabri Devi, Misa Bharti, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI-ML leader Dipankar Bhattacharya and other leaders were present in the rally.

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