The political legacy of RJD chief Lalu Prasad is at stake in two seats in Vaishali, one of the world’s oldest republics and capital of the Lichhavi clan, where the NDA is trying hard to eclipse the ‘sonrise’ by fielding two rebel sitting MLAs of JD(U) against his sons.
With leaders having switched loyalties, there is confusion galore for voters and party cadres in Raghopur and Mahua constituencies, which go to polls on October 28 in the third phase.
JD(U) and RJD had locked horns for the two seats over the last 15 years before Lalu Prasad and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar buried their differences to forge an alliance to take on a resurgent BJP after the Modi juggernaut virtually decimated them in the Lok Sabha polls with NDA bagging 31 of the state’s 40 seats.
The result is that both the JD(U) candidates, who trounced RJD nominees in the last assembly polls, are taking on RJD supremo’s sons while riding the NDA bandwagon.
Lalu’s sons Tej Pratap Yadav (27) and Tejaswi Yadav(25), are banking as much on their father’s yadav caste vote bank as on “chacha” Nitish Kumar to take on Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) nominee Ravindra Rai in Mahua and ‘giant killer’ Satish Kumar in Raghopur. Kumar had humbled Lalu’s wife and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi in the last poll.
Since yadavas constitute the largest voting bloc in the area, the JD(U) had in 2010 fielded Rai and Satish, both yadavas from Mahua and Raghopur. Both had won, with Satish Kumar’s triumph earning his the sobriquet of ‘giant killer’.
RJD supporters, however, insist that Lalu’s sons have a clear edge, especially after the coming together of Lalu and Nitish. RJD leaders are also spreading the buzz that Lalu’s sons are up for Deputy Chief Ministership if the grand alliance wins the polls though the RJD chief himself downplays this.
Addressing election rallies in Raghopur, Tejaswi seeks to allay apprehensions that he will not devote time to the constituency and promises he is ready to construct a house there and stay permanently to work for the people.
Stumping in the two constituencies, Nitish Kumar says Tej Pratap and Tejaswi are not only Lalu’s sons but also “my candidates”. In Raghopur, he asks his supporters to “chase away” Satish Kumar. He says the ‘giant killer’ tag to Kumar was a “misnomer”.
“If you ensure Tejaswi’s win, I will take care of Raghopur’s development,” Kumar says.
Satish Kumar, who is contesting on a BJP ticket, however, ridicules Nitish, saying JD(U) has no cadre base in the constituency.
“Last time also, it was the BJP workers who worked for me, though I was contesting on JD(U) ticket. This time also I am the NDA candidate. This time round BJP workers will work all the more harder as I am a BJP candidate,” he said. Rabri had earlier defeated Satish Kumar in Raghopur in October 2005 polls.