BJP leaders change profile to‘Modi ka parivar’ on Lalu jibe | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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BJP leaders change profile to‘Modi ka parivar’ on Lalu jibe

Mar 05, 2024 06:20 AM IST

RJD chief Lalu Prasad's comment on PM Modi's family sparks controversy. PM responds, saying every poor person in India is his family. BJP leaders back PM.

A remark by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) patriarch Lalu Prasad on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s family sparked a controversy on Monday with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders appending “Modi ka parivar” (Modi’s family) to their social media handles and the PM hitting back at the Opposition.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai on Monday. (ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai on Monday. (ANI)

Speaking in Telangana’s Adilabad, Modi said every poor person in the country was his family and he, in turn, was family to those who have none.

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“My life is an open book... 140 crore people of the country are my family. Today, crores of daughters, mothers and sisters of the country are Modi’s family. Every poor person in the country is my family. Those who have no one belong to Modi and Modi belongs to them,” he said.

Soon after, the rank and file of the BJP, led by Union home minister Amit Shah, defence minister Rajnath Singh and BJP chief JP Nadda, added “Modi ka parivar” (Modi’s family) to their social media handles.

The campaign is a throwback to the BJP’s “main bhi chowkidar (I am also a watchman)” narrative in 2019 that was built to counter the Congress’s ”chowkidar chor hai” (the watchman is a thief) slogan, accusing the government and the PM of irregularities in the purchase of Rafale fighter jets ahead of the general elections five years ago. The BJP retained power in 2019, winning a bigger mandate than 2014, with its tally going up from 282 to 303.

The PM’s statement and BJP campaign came in response to Lalu Prasad’s attack on him a day before, questioning the PM’s Hindu credentials and mocking him for not having a family of his own.

“These days he (PM) is talking about dynastic politics. You (PM Modi) don’t have a family... You are not even a Hindu. When one’s mother dies, every Hindu, as per tradition, shaves his beard and head. Why did you not shave? You only spread hatred in society,” Lalu Prasad said at the party’s “Jan Vishwas Maha Rally” in Patna on Sunday.

On Monday, Modi hit back, reiterating his credentials as a leader who did not promote nepotism and opposed dynastic rule.

“If I am living, I am living only for all of you (people). This is why crores of Indians consider me as their family,” he said.

The PM attributed the Opposition leader’s statement to his nervousness. “Leaders of the INDI alliance (INDIA bloc), deeply engrossed in corruption, nepotism and appeasement, are becoming nervous. When I question their parivarvad, they say Modi has no family,” he said.

National spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP, Sudhanshu Trivedi also attacked the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance for making “abusive and derogatory remarks” against the PM.

He said in contrast to the PM’s vision for Viksit Bharat or developed India, the Opposition’s agenda was “divisive politics” and “securing family power over national interest”.

“Over the past 16-17 years, Modi has faced jealousy, hatred and cheap statements from the Opposition leaders... they have targeted his caste, community, family and made objectionable remarks, undermining the dignity of democracy,” Trivedi said.

This is not the first time that the party and the PM have attempted to turn the tables on the Opposition’s comments and jibes to build a narrative for the electoral campaign.

Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, after Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar made a derogatory reference to Modi’s PM ambitions and referred to him as a “chaiwala” (tea-seller), the BJP launched the “chai pe charcha” (conversation over tea) campaign to draw home the message that the Congress insulted the working class. The PM had earlier spoken about his humble origins and how he had to sell tea to support the family income.

In 2019, in addition to the “main bhi chowkidar” campaign, the PM attacked Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati for calling him a “fake OBC”.

“You are distributing pramaan patra (certificates) of caste, a game I have never played. But I want to tell you, my caste is most backward caste,” he said. The PM also attacked the Opposition for calling him “neech” (lowly) by linking it with “neech jaat” (lower caste).

A senior BJP leader said the personal attacks on the PM will only strengthen the BJP’s bid to retain power for the third time. “Each time the Opposition attacked the PM, whether it was comments such as maut ka saudagar (merchant of death) or neech jaat (lower caste), people of this country rallied behind him and sent him with a bigger mandate... the BJP’s positive campaign trump over the opposition’s negative campaigns,” the leader said.

The PM’s policies of empowering the backward and the poor, the leader quoted above explained, created a new caste of people. “There is a caste of labharthis (beneficiaries), who do not vote on the basis of region, religion or community... these are people who vote for Modi’s guarantees,” the leader said.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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