NEW DELHI: The headlines this morning announced, “PM Narendra Modi breaks silence on Dadri lynching,” “Modi breaks silence on Dadri lynching” and the like.

I clicked on the headlines, keen to know more -- as we have all been pointing out that the Indian Prime Minister has remained silent over the brutal lynching in Dadri, UP -- where a fifty five year old man was beaten to death and his son critically injured over rumours that the family were eating beef.

Surprisingly, I saw no mention of Dadri in the reproduced statements quoting the Prime Minister.

The Indian Express states: Addressing a well-attended BJP rally in Nawada Thursday, Modi said: “People are making… ulte-seedhe byaan for rajneeti (all kinds of statements are being made for the sake of politics). Don’t listen to them. Even if Narendra Modi says something like that, don’t listen. Desh ko ek rehna hai. Ekta, shanti, sadbhavna, yahi Bharat ko aage le jayegi (The country has to remain one. There has to be unity, peace and harmony. Only these can take Bharat forward).”

The Hindu stated: Mr. Modi, who had come under criticism for failing to speak up on the issue or restrain his party leaders from making incendiary statements, referred to President Pranab Mukherjee’s statement just a day before, to drive home his point. “I have said it earlier too. Hindus should decide whether to fight Muslims or poverty. Muslims have to decide whether to fight Hindus or poverty. Both need to fight poverty together. The country has to stay united, only communal harmony and brotherhood will take the nation forward. People should ignore controversial statements made by politicians, as they are doing so for political gains.”

No mention of Dadri. The PM makes a valid point, and a welcome one -- that this country needs to focus on development and not communal hatred (which seems to be the focus of several politicians, many of whom have even condoned or at the least excused the Dadri lynching, blaming the victim’s family); that this country needs to stay united. However, the PM, in my opinion, is still silent on Dadri -- as there has been no direct condemnation of the horrific act.

Even though the PM did not mention Dadri, this Bihar election may very well go down as the #BeefElection, as a lot of the rhetoric is centred around the beef ban and the violence in Dadri. PM Modi joined the fray as he hit out at Lalu Prasad Yadav for his comments that Hindus too eat beef. Lalu had attempted to retract from the statement saying a “shaitan” (devil) had entered his body.

"What all did he eat? It (the remarks) insulted the Yaduvanshis... Laluji these Yaduvanshis helped you to come to power. What all Yadavs it not an insult of Yadavs and Bihar?" PM Modi said.

“I want to know how the shaitan got his address. He recognises that it was the shaitan, just as people recognise their relatives,” the Prime Minister added.

PM Modi, however, did not directly utter the “B word” (just as he didn’t mention the “D word) but his BJP party members have been far more forthcoming.

Sushil Kumar Modi promised to ban slaughterhouses if the BJP is elected to Bihar. A few days earlier, he took to Twitter to warn that if re-elected, Nitish Kumar will "open slaughterhouses" in every district in Bihar.

Giriraj Singh joined the #BeefElection rhetoric by saying "Nitish is with gaumaas (beef) and jungle raj," and that "Lalu says throw meat in Durga mandir."

Bhupender Yadav joined the party with a tweet a few days earlier reading: "I haven't seen a Yaduvanshi who eats beef, Laluji has hurt the sentiments of millions."

However, it’s the impact of the rhetoric and not the statements themselves that have sealed this Bihar assembly election as the #BeefElection. The campaign in Bihar has become a campaign of the issue of cow slaughter and the beef ban. Middle class neighbourhoods in Patna wake up to anti-cow slaughter prabhat pheris (morning vigilante marches), text messages regarding how Lalu wants Hindus to eat beef make their way into rural areas, and at the front of PM Modi’s rally -- whilst the Prime Minister was reiterating Hindu-Muslim harmony -- the supporters chant slogans in support of banning beef and vow action against those who slaughter cows.