Bihar polls: Musical crossfire on social media

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NEW DELHI: It was a sarcastic, politically-loaded question in the form of a song, Bihar mein ka ba? (What’s there in Bihar?). And it elicited an equally sharp response in the form of another number. Two regional singers — Neha Rathore and Maithili Thakur — were locked in a sharp musical exchange on social media, eyes firmly set on Bihar assembly polls next month.
About two weeks ago, 23-year-old singer Neha Rathore posted her pungent track in Bhojpuri questioning the lack of development in Bihar. “Bihar mein ka ba? Corona se barbaad ba. Badh se badhaal ba (What’s there in Bihar? It’s damaged because of Corona, it’s desperate because of floods),” she sang.
On Friday, another young singer Maithili Thakur, who has over 74k followers on Twitter, released a sharp riposte to Rathore. Thakur, 20, who croons folk songs in several regional dialects — Bhojpuri, Maghi, Maithili — sang about the development in a part of the state in Maithili asking people, albeit indirectly, to refrain from posing irrelevant questions.
She spoke of the airport in Darbhanga, construction of AIIMS, improving education infrastructure, among other things. She was retweeted by some BJP and JDU Bihar politicians, including Sanjay Kumar and Nand Kishore. The verified handle of JDU and BJP Bihar also retweeted her song.
Rathore’s inspiration clearly came from the popular Bhojpuri rap song performed by actor Manoj Bajpai, Bambai mein ka ba (What’s there in Mumbai)? The song, angry and defiant, talked of migrants without mincing words and did not romanticise their suffering.
Drawing from there, Rathore, composed her own hard-hitting number. “I don’t have a problem with any party. I ask questions because it’s my constitutional right,” she told TOI on Saturday. A glance at her YouTube Channel, Dharohar, shows that she questions the establishment demanding jobs, criticising religious and caste-based discrimination and corruption. The singer has 96k subscribers on YouTube and is followed by over 45k people on Twitter.
A resident of Kaimur in west Bihar, Rathore completed her graduation from Kanpur University in 2018 after which she returned to her native place because she wanted to sing. She uploaded her first song on Facebook in 2019, and subsequently started her YouTube channel, Dharohar.
“I called it Dharohar because I see myself as one of the many protectors of the Bhojpuri language. It’s our legacy but the only Bhojpuri songs known outside are sleazy,” she added.
After Rathore’s sarcastic questions, BJP released its response through another song, “Bihar mein ee ba”, which lists the achievements of the state government and was widely promoted by BJP leaders. It talks of the changes in the state, rural electrification, housing schemes, among others.
“I am not a political person, and I don’t support any party. But I have a problem when everyone begins to only highlight the wrong traits of the state. Bihar has improved a lot under this government, but people have not acknowledged that,” Thakur told TOI.
Thakur moved to Delhi in 2011 when just 11 to focus on her music career. She is currently pursuing political science honours from Delhi university.
“I am aware of the political developments in the country. Even though I moved out of my native town, I am still attached to my state and want people to know that it’s safe for everyone,” she added.
Thakur’s song, too, elicited a response from Rathore, who tweeted, “Folk artists should not compromise on the interests of the people,” Rathore wrote.

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