Of the three main alliance partners, it was Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad who turned out to be the biggest crowdpuller and also the one who stuck to the job of taking the BJP to task at the much-publicised Swabhiman rally.
Long before the rally got underway, his die-hard supporters started thronging the ground, many of whom had occupied vantage point at the venue on Saturday night itself.
And it was not without purpose. For, when Prasad stood up to address, as the last speaker, he was greeted with a Lalu-Lalu chant — only a shade less than the ‘well rehearsed’ Modi-Modi slogan that has become the hallmark of every rally of the Prime Minister.
Even the long trudge of his supporters to the venue was a throwback to his earlier rallies during his heydays, replete with the associated paraphernalia of motorcycle-borne rallyists, horse and camel riding enthusiasts and drum-beating groups.
An aerial view of the Swabhiman rally at Gandhi Maidan in Patna on Sunday. (Santosh Kumar/HT photo)
“We have come all the way from Saharsa,” said Shivnath Chaudhary. Same was the case with Ramchandra Rai and Fakruddin Ansari from Nawada, who spent the night at the venue. “We will do anything Prasad asks for,” they said.
The connect Prasad achieved with the participants, with his witty one-liners, was also an indication of the presence of a large number of receptive supporters, who cheered him on as he went on to smother his opponents.
He was candid enough to use the platform to test his followers (especially Yadavs), asking them about BJP’s claim that some of them would desert him.