A day ahead of his “grand” anti-BJP rally, RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Saturday appeared calm, confident and sure that hundreds of thousands would participate in the “BJP Bhagao, Desh Bachao” rally.
Rebel Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad will attend the rally here, a RJD leader said.
Besides, Congress’ C.P. Joshi, NCP’s Tarique Anwar, RLD’s Choudhary Jayant Singh, CPI’s Sudhakar Reddy and former Jharkhand Chief Ministers Hemant Soren of the JMM and Babulal Marandi of the JVM, AIUDF chief Baadruddin Azmal, and leaders from DMK, JD-S and RSP will also attend the rally, the RJD leader said.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati has, however, refused to be part of the rally while Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is abroad.
Lalu Prasad, clad in his usual white cotton vest and lungi, relaxing on a chair at his 10, Circular Road official bungalow, said: “I am sure and certain (of a massive gathering). Where is the question of doubt?.
“Thousands of people, my party leaders, workers, supporters and sympathizers have already started arriving in Patna with drums, traditional music groups to be part of the rally.”
He said they have arrived with dry food like ‘sattu’ and ‘chura’. “Unlike other parties, my people are coming with their own arrangement of dry food,” he added. “We have also arranged food for them.”
Lalu Prasad’s younger son Tejashwi Yadav, who has emerged as the new face of the RJD after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar dumped the Grand Alliance and joined hands with the BJP to form government in July, campaigned vigorously across the state to mobilize his supporters for the rally.
Tejashwi Yadav, who is Leader of Opposition and former Deputy Chief Minister said: “We will expose Nitish Kumar’s ‘double speak’ and his ‘opportunistic alliance’ with the BJP, in the rally.”
Green, the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s official colour, appeared to be the colour of the day.
RJD workers, sporting green caps and holding green flags and banners, have put up hundreds of welcome arches and hoardings in green in and around Patna, on all roads leading to the historic Gandhi Maidan, the venue.
People have started arriving to the city since Friday night. But crowds are likely to increase by Saturday evening with RJD leaders using big and small vehicles and trains to ferry their supporters to the rally.
“Lalu’s party workers and supporters have literally painted Patna green,” a district police official said.
“RJD’s green billboards and graffiti are visible everywhere in Patna,” said Shakti Yadav, RJD spokesperson.
He said this rally will again prove that Lalu is the “only mass leader” in Bihar and his social support base is still intact.
“Laluji is the only political force in Bihar that can challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party and counter it.”
However, there is speculation that with floods affecting major parts of Seemanchal, Koshi and Mithilanchal regions of North Bihar, it would prove a big task for the RJD to mobilise party supporters from there.
Now, all eyes are on the RJD’s rally as it is going to be a show of strength by Lalu Prasad.