Euphoria prevails in Bihar

November 08, 2015 04:15 pm | Updated 04:34 pm IST - Patna

JD(U) supporters dance as they celebrate the Mahagathbandhan's (Grand Alliance) victory in Bihar assembly elections at the party office in Patna.

JD(U) supporters dance as they celebrate the Mahagathbandhan's (Grand Alliance) victory in Bihar assembly elections at the party office in Patna.

On this pleasant autumnal day, spring is already in the air in Patna.

“Haan bhaiyya, Bihar me bahar hain/ Mr. Kumar phir ek baar” (Yes, brother, it is spring again in Bihar/ It’s Mr. Kumar once again) read the billboards declaring victory for the grand coalition. 

They have come up well before noon, all along Bailey Road, ahead of the declaration of the final results: the first lot carry a giant image of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar looking at Parliament House, an indication of his ambitions and that of his supporters — to make a bid for the Prime Ministership in the next general elections. 

Some even have cartoon figures of BJP president Amit Shah, LJP president Ramvilas Paswan, HAM chief Jitan Ram Manjhi and Lok Samata Party boss Upendra Kushwaha cowering in a corner.

All carry pictures of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, Former chief minister Rabri Devi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi. 

As gulal-smeared, motorcycle-borne workers of the Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress,  waving party flags and shouting victory slogans speed through the streets, an elderly JD-U activist says indulgently: “It is both Holi and Diwali —no, no double Diwali.”

But this euphoria was preceded on Sunday morning by some nail-biting moments for the grand coalition.  At around 8.30 am, the most festive spot in Patna was the BJP office: by 8.50 am, as television showed early leads for the BJP-led NDA, workers began to burst crackers, blow conch shells and give sound-bytes on why they had won — this was a decisive decision against Jungle Raj.

In sharp contrast, the scene at the RJD office, further down the Beerchand Patel Road — on which both offices are located — the mood was sombre: sitting in a neat semi-circle before a giant TV screen, workers — and policemen — sat very quietly. As the TV anchor announced that one of the party candidates, they stood up for a few brief moments to clap, only to slump back into their chairs. Pragati Mehta, a spokesman for the party, says its early in the day. When I press him on whether the grand coalition will break if it doesn't win these elections, he says: “ No, it will remain intact: we didn't come together for power, but for a larger purpose, to unite the secular forces and completing the unfinished agenda of securing social justice for those who have not yet got it.” 

In Bihar, it is seldom that you will meet a politician — of any stripe — who will not have a ready answer for every occasion.

The scene at the JD-U office at 9.15 am is even more dismal: party workers crowded inside a small room watching TV. Then at 9.20, for the first time since the morning, the trends start reversing: out burst the workers, opening packets of gulal, smearing each other mithai pink, shouting slogans in favour of Mr. Kumar — and interestingly, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav — ready to face the TV cameras now. 

By the time I get to Mr. Kumar’s official residence on Circular Road, the crowd outside has just begun to get larger. Further down the road, an even larger number of people are milling round the gates of former chief minister Rabri Devi. 

I return to the BJP office: at about 10.50, we suddenly hear drums a and the bursting of crackers: has the trend changed again. I rush outside to see workers of the RJD, the JD-U and the Congress marching down the street to the BJP, shouting victory slogans. They stop before the BJP gate, burst crackers there and shout: “Gaddi chodo, gaddi chodo”. (Give up office) 

Enraged BJP workers rush to confront them but the police is there and the moment passes off peacefully. They walk further down the street and then turn back, once again past the BJP office. By now the crowd had swelled, the motorcycles have arrived, party flags fluttering in the breeze — some carry all three flags on a single pole.     

When I go back to Circular Road, the scene has changed entirely: the crowds outside the residences of Mr Kumar and Ms Rabri Devi, has swelled — and so has the presence of the police. The bands are marching up and down, playing martial tunes, the chattai bombs are going off, making a deafening sound, there is gulal—mithai pink and green — on workers’ faces and the fragrance of marigolds fills the air.  

(Photos: PTI)

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