A running subplot in fight for Parsa seat: Lalu's son's troubled marriage
Parsa (Bihar): More than the electoral battle, the Parsa assembly segment in Saran district is witnessing a fight playing out between the families of two Yadav giants of Bihar politics -- Lalu Prasad and Chandrika Roy.
The marital dispute between Prasad's elder son Tej Pratap Yadav and Aishwarya Rai, a daughter of Chandrika Roy, has its shadow in the poll battle on this seat which votes on November 3.
Located in the Saran district, Parsa assembly constituency forms a part of Chapra Lok Sabha seat, which the RJD supremo has represented four times.
Emerging motivated after the 1974 JP movement, Prasad had taken a plunge in the electoral politics in 1977, winning the Chapra Lok Sabha seat at the age of 29.
As the president of the Patna University Students Union, Prasad had taken an active part in the movement launched by Loknayak Jay Prakash Narayan in 1974 against the then Congress regime at the Centre.
Presently, BJP's national spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy is the MP from Chapra.
A Yadav-dominated constituency, the Parsa seat, besides the electoral fight, is also dominated by talks on the bad marriage between Tej Pratap and Aishwarya.
Within six months of tying the nuptial knot in May 2018, their conjugal relationship hit the bottleneck and the dispute is now pending with a Patna family court.
Roy and his family are canvassing against RJD candidate Chhote Lal Rai by telling the people in the constituency about the alleged "ill-treatment" meted out to Aishwarya by Prasad's family and asking voters to deliver justice .
Tej Pratap himself is contesting from Hasanpur seat.
Chandrika Roy, who has represented Parsa six times as an RJD leader, bade goodbye to the party in the wake of the marital dispute and joined the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U), which has fielded him from the seat.
Chhote Lal himself was hoping a JD(U) ticket, but after the ruling party's snub, he crossed over to the RJD and is now challenging his old rival on the seat.
As a JD(U) nominee, Chhote Lal had defeated Chandrika Roy, the son of former chief minister Daroga Prasad Rai, in 2005 as well as in 2010.
But in 2015, when the JD (U) and the RJD fought as allies, Parsa was given to Lalu Prasad's party in the seat-sharing arrangement and its nominees Chandrika Roy emerged victorious.
Parsa is considered a bastion of Roy's family, whose father Daroga Prasad Rai represented it seven terms since the first assembly polls in Independent India in 1951. Chandrika Roy took over the seat after the death of his father and has won it six times since 1985.
The marital discord between the two families has been a raging topic in the constituency, though the RJD nominee is trying to underplay it.
Chandrika Roy and Aishwarya talked openly on the topic at a recent rally of Chief Minister Kumar in Parsa and sought justice from the people.
The chief minister also raked up the matter and attacked his bete noire Lalu Prasad for "mistreating a well-educated girl .
Chandrika Roy has also been touring the constituency and asking people to vote for ensuring a double engine government -- NDA dispensations both at the Centre as well as in the state -- keep up the pace of development in the constituency.
Aishwarya and her mother Poornima Yadav are also holding roadshows and meeting people with an appeal to "teach a lesson to Prasad's family for ill-treating their daughter- in-law".
The RJD, which has inducted Aishwarya's cousin Karishma Roy in July, is pitting her to counter their narrative.
Karishma, daughter of Chandrika Roy's elder brother Bidhan Chandra Roy, toured the constituency for her party but soon withdrew.
Chandrika Roy had alleged at a recent poll meeting that the RJD had used her against them luring her with a ticket in the polls but the promise was not kept and that is why she retreated.
Chhote Lal, however, does not care much about the talks of marital discord and the fight between the two powerful families.
"It's a separate issue between the two families and we have nothing to do with it. It's a zero issue in the elections in the constituency," he said.
As per the voter list of 2019, there are 2,58,877 electorate in the Parsa assembly segment. Out of this Yadav voters account for around 65,000.
Muslims, who represent the M' in the RJD's claimed MY" (Muslim-Yadav) voter base, number around 35,000 on the seat.
The constituency has a significant presence of chief minister Nitish Kumar's Kurmi castemen at 40,000, besides about 30,000 forward castes, mostly Rajputs.
BJP leader Rudy, who had defeated Roy in the 2019 general election, is now rooting for him.
LJP president Chirag Paswan has fielded Rakesh Kumar Singh, a BJP rebel, from the seat. He could eat into Chandrika Roy's votes.
The RJD, meanwhile, is also facing a challenge from Shailendra Yadav of the Jan Adhikar Party (JAP), which is led by former Madhepura MP and a prominent Yadav politician Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav.
Sanjay Kumar Rai, who is in the campaign team of the JD(U) candidate, claimed that almost 40-50 per cent of the village heads belonging to the Yadav caste are with them.
Dhirendra Yadav, a local, said the things would have been different had Lalu Prasad himself been in the field.
Some in Parsa bazar said they wanted to strengthen PM Modi's hands.
"We have great respect for him and would like to strengthen his hands by ensuring victory of his nominee," said Mukesh Singh, views echoed by Satish Kumar and Pankaj Viskarma.