Lok Sabha elections 2019: ‘Lantern vs arrow’: Lalu Yadav writes letter to Nitish Kumar
In a letter to Kumar ahead of the last phase of the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar on May 19, he said, “It seems that you have started strongly disliking ‘light’. You do not know that ‘lalten’ is a symbol of light. It is a symbol of love and brotherhood. It is a tool to remove darkness from the lives of the poor.”Updated: May 14, 2019 15:04 IST
The Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) have taunted each other over their respective party symbols and their relevance in modern times.
Stung by the relentless attacks by leaders of JD(U) and its ally Bharatiya Janata Party on the RJD election symbol, the lantern, incarcerated RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Monday launched a direct attack on chief minister Nitish Kumar through his Facebook post, addressing him as “Suno chhote bhai Nitish (Listen, younger brother Nitish)....” Lalu’s post said that the JD(U) election symbol “teer (arrow)” was an object for museums in this missile age. A picture was also attached to the post, with Lalu asking voters to keep the National Democratic Alliance at bay in Bihar’s interest and vote only for the lantern.
The post said: “It seems you have now developed a lot of aversion to light. You keep chanting Lalu and his ‘flame’, lantern the entire day. You don’t know that the lantern is the synonym for light, a symbol of love and brotherhood. It is a tool to remove darkness from the lives of the poor. I used the brightness of the lantern to remove the darkness of hatred, inequality, and injustice and will keep doing so. Your party symbol, arrow, is a weapon to spread violence, a symbol of fight.” The post has drawn hundreds of comments, some backing the former chief minister and others talking of electricity.
Defending the party symbol, Lalu continued: “People will need the lantern under all circumstances. Light is emitted by a clay lamp, a lantern, and also a bulb. You cannot remove the darkness of unemployment, atrocities, hatred, injustice, and inequality with the light of the bulb. It requires lighting an earthen lamp with affection and an open mind and heart. To ensure equality, love and justice, one has to burn like an earthen lamp and its wick. The flame has to be kept intact, refusing to compromise, and fighting the storm of casteism, Manuvadi mindset and hatred. But then, how could you understand the ideologies and principles? Looking for shortcuts and opportunism have become your old habits.”
Taking a jibe at the current CM, the ex-CM said that his opponent’s party symbol was no longer fit for the age of missiles. “The arrow is now an object for museums. The lantern can be found everywhere and with a brighter flame, because you have hit 11 crore poor people with an arrow of betrayal in their back. But then, it is up to you, whether you like to hide or stick the arrow in a flower grown in muck.” The reference to the flower was a clear hit at the BJP election symbol, lotus, a flower that usually grows in muddy water.
Earlier, ex-CM and senior RJD leader Rabri Devi had also hit back at NDA taunts at the lantern symbol. RJD Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha said that this just showed the desperation of the NDA after seeing the outcome in the five phases of polls so far.
The availability of electricity in Bihar villages, for which both the Centre as well as the state government take credit and pat each other on the back, has given the NDA ammunition to repeatedly remind voters that the “lantern age” was behind them. “The days of the lantern are over in Bihar, as there is power everywhere,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Darbhanga visit in late April, while Nitish and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar have been reminding people at rallies that the lantern was now “useless” due to the spread of electricity in the state.
“Bihar no longer needs the lantern, as it has got used to living in the light of electric bulbs. The lantern era is well and truly over. We have made sure that electricity reaches every village. Now, the choice is yours. We have worked hard to pull the state out of darkness, while some people are trying to push it back to the lantern age,” said Nitish — or said words to this effect — at several public speeches.
After Lalu’s Facebook post, JD(U) spokesman Neeraj Kumar immediately posted a counter-letter, addressed to Lalu. The response went: “The arrow has been used since ancient times to kill demons, and in modern times, its use has continued to take on the corrupt and tyrants, causing restlessness to some people. People have recognised your design to keep Bihar in the lantern age and are in no mood to remain there after having seen the bright side of electricity.”