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Oratory reached a new high (or low, depending on how you look at it) in the Bihar assembly elections. Politicians came up with amusing catchphrases to target each other. While some of them worked, others backfired. Here’s a look at some of the more prominent ones.

Sushil Kumar Modi. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
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Sushil Kumar Modi. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Vibhishan versus Ravana: The war of words started on 15 June when Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar called former chief minister and friend-turned-enemy Jitan Ram Manjhi “Vibhishan", a reference to the younger brother of Ravana who switched sides in the ‘Ramayana’. Returning the fire on 16 June, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushil Modi said if “Manjhi is Vibhishan, then Kumar is Ravana whom Vibhishan left to go to Ram (a reference to the BJP)".

Nitish Kumar. Photo: PTI
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Nitish Kumar. Photo: PTI

Snake-sandalwood controversy: On 21 July, during a question-and-answer round on Twitter, Kumar got into the midst of the snake-sandalwood controversy. When asked how Bihar would progress under a Janata Dal (United)-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) alliance, Kumar used Rahim’s couplet to reply. “Jo Raheem uttam prakriti ka kari sakar susang, chandan vish vyapt nahin lipte bhujang (People with good nature are like a sandalwood tree, which does not lose its fragrance even if snakes surround it)," he tweeted. Political analysts thought the couplet was used against RJD chief Lalu Prasad, but Kumar later said it was meant for the BJP.

Narendra Modi. Photo: PTI
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Narendra Modi. Photo: PTI

DNA remark: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a rally in Muzaffarpur on 25 July, said that Kumar has a poor DNA as he frequently changed his political affiliations. This comment boomeranged and Kumar took to social media and wrote a letter to Modi saying: “I am a son of Bihar, so my DNA is the DNA of the people of Bihar." Modi drew a lot of flak for this comment.

Kaliya naag: A few days later, on 26 July, Prasad called Modi a “Kaliya naag" (the mythological poisonous serpent that was tamed by Krishna) after Modi tried to reach out to Yadav voters in Bihar.

Ram Vilas Paswan. Photo: PTI
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Ram Vilas Paswan. Photo: PTI

Expired medicines: Jumping into the fray, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Ram Vilas Paswan, during a TV interview on 27 September, called Kumar and Prasad “expired medicines which if consumed will make the people of Bihar sick".

Amit Shah. Photo: PTI
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Amit Shah. Photo: PTI

Fodder thief versus cannibal: Addressing a rally at Begusarai on 1 October, BJP president Amit Shah called Prasad “chara chor" (fodder thief). Cacophemism hit a new low when while addressing the media, Prasad rebutted this remark by calling Shah a “narbhakshi" (cannibal).

Bharatiya Jumla Party: On 2 October, Shah called a promise made by Modi a “jumla", a political idiom. Attacking this statement, Kumar in a rally at Nokha in Bihar said that the BJP means “Bharatiya Jumla Party".

Lalu Prasad. Photo: PTI
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Lalu Prasad. Photo: PTI

The war of devils: In another incident on 9 October, Prasad called Modi a “bramhapishaach" (dangerous ghost) in reply to Modi calling him a “shaitan" (devil).

Bahari vs Bihari: Kumar played his trump card when at a rally in Begusarai, referring to Modi as the face of BJP in Bihar he said, “Bihar ko bahari chalayega ya Bihari? (Who will run Bihar, a Bihari or an outsider)." Modi made a come back a few days later, asking, “How can a Prime Minister be bahari in his own country?"

Black magic or democracy: On 27 October, while addressing a rally in Marhaura, Modi termed RJD the Rashtriya Jadu-Tona Dal (party that practices black magic). The statement was made in reference to a video clip of Kumar meeting a tantrik (holy man) which went viral. Later, at a rally in Sitamarhi, Modi asked the crowd whether India wants “mantra-tantra" (black magic) or “loktantra" (democracy)?

Arhar Modi: When the price of lentils rose to 200 per kg, people retaliated by twisting the famous 2014 general election slogan of “har har Modi" (Everyone is Modi) to “arhar Modi". Arhar is a variety of lentil.

Creative full forms

• Addressing a rally in Muzaffarpur on 27 July, Modi said the RJD is “Rozana Jungle Raj Ka Darr (everyday fear of misgovernance)." It was in this rally that the infamous DNA barb was used by Modi against Kumar.

• Addressing the parivartan rally at Gandhi Maidan in Patna on 9 August, Modi called the Janata Dal (United) “Janata ka Daman aur Utpeedan Party (the party that oppresses people)."

• On 10 August, counter-attacking Modi, Kumar told reporters that BJP means “Bada Jhutha Party (party of big liars)."

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