Bihar polls: When bicycles outpaced hi-tech SUV ‘raths’

  • Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times, Patna
  • Updated: Nov 08, 2015 20:48 IST
The grand alliance had an army of teenage cyclists for its campaign. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

Bihar’s Mandate 2015 was as much a victory for the unassuming bicycle as the three-party Mahagathbandhan or grand alliance (GA).

The BJP-led NDA had pressed 243 GPS-enabled raths – improvised off-roaders – into service for campaigning. Fitted with LCD screens, these digital raths moved across the length and breadth to carry the NDA’s video message home to the people.

The GA, on the other hand, had an army of teenage cyclists. For Rs 200 a day, each of them pedalled from village to village carrying a square flex board fitted on the carrier of his bicycle. The flex sported the photos of chief minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi besides what GA promises to do if voted to power.

The two different canvassing modules added colour to the high-pitched electoral battle, particularly across Bihar’s rural landscape. On Sunday, many agreed the bicycles outpaced the diesel-driven raths because of the human touch.

“Nitishji rode a bicycle, Modiji had his rath. Ultimately the bicycle won the race,” said Lal Babu Prasad of Mirzatoli in Chapra district.

“People identify more with bicycles that are ubiquitous unlike big vehicles that zoom in and out once in a while,” Ravindra Kumar of Lalganj Bazaar in Vaishali district said.

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