Patliputra: Will the best Yadav please stand up!
Patliputra, once the citadel of dynastic rulers such as Nandas, Mauryans, Sungas and Guptas, is now witnessing the fierce battle of dynasty versus disciples. The ancient city was the largest town during the reign of emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC with a population of 1,50,000 to 3,00,000, which reached the pinnacle of prosperity when it was the capital of Mauryan emperors such as Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka.
In contrary to the ancient times, nowadays the battle for the Patliputra Lok Sabha seat, with total electorates of about 16 lakh, has locked into triangular contest. The main contestants are Ram Kripal Yadav (BJP), Ranjan Yadav (JD-U) and Misa Bharti (RJD). Misa, the eldest daughter of Lalu Prasad, is in the fray to wrest the ‘doomed glory’ of the party and family.
Patliputra, one among the two Lok Sabha constituencies of Patna, has become the bone of contention for Ram (Lalu) and his Hanuman. The prestige of both the leaders is at the stake. The polling for this hot seat of Bihar is scheduled for 17 April. During the poll campaigning trail, the story of betrayal and perfidy, nepotism and dynastic politics were raised at its length and breadth by almost the candidates in the fray from this prestigious seat.
The contest is three-cornered intra-Yadav fight-to-finish challenge. Misa Bharti, the 39-year-old Emergency-era born daughter of RJD chief is pitted against two well-known rebel Yadav leaders - Ram Kripal Yadav and Ranjan Prasad Yadav, the sitting JD(U) MP from the constituency. Ram Kripal Yadav had quit the RJD recently to join his once arch rival party BJP.
Ram Kripal is not a new face in the poll ring from this seat. It’s his political home turf. At present the Rajya Sabha MP, had defeated BJP’s CP Thakur in 2004 general elections. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, he vacated the Patliputra seat for his political guru – Lalu Yadav– who had contested against Ranjan and lost. Both Yadav leaders are former acolytes of Lalu. Ram Kripal today exemplifies the exodus of popular grassroots Yadav leaders of RJD switching over to the BJP given the simmering rebellion against dynastic family rule within the RJD.
‘Lalu should have rewarded Ram Kripal with the Patliputra seat for his sacrifice and loyalty. Ram Kripal would have been the best war horse of the party to defeat Ranjan Yadav in this election. But passing the baton to Misa Bharti shows that Lalu is too obsessed with ‘oiling’ his own dynastic brigade. It seems he is seeing his successor in Misa, an RJD MLA, on the condition of anonymity, said to the Millennium Post.
Attacking RJD chief for wooing dreaded criminal Ritlal Yadav by appointing him the general secretary of the party and an assembly ticket-promise to his wife, BJP state unit secretary Mritunjay Jha says, ‘Lalu has humiliated the Yadav community by ignoring Ram Kripal. The old vote-bank of RJD i.e Muslim-Yadav is no more with Lalu in this election. Yadav’s of Patliputra would vote for BJP in the name of Modi and development and Ram Kripalji would win this seat with thumping majority.’
‘By preferring inexperienced Misa over Ram Kripal, Lalu has committed a political blunder. There is no chance of Misa Bharti winning this seat to secure her father’s pride, Mritunjay Jha further added.
Stressing on Modi wave, Paliganj MLA Usha Vidhyarthi said, ‘Though, Patliputra parliamentary seat is rural vote base, the youths are banking upon Modi for his development model. The RJD and JD-U candidates will bite the dust in this election.
‘The Modi wave has lured away a large section of urban educated young Yadavs, who have switched over to the saffron side busy chanting ‘NaMo! NaMo’, Usha Vidhyarthi added.
Betrayal and nepotism are not alien to RJD’s political culture. Lalu had split the Janata Dal in 1997 and formed the RJD to impose his wife Rabri Devi as chief minister of the state. Later, when he was jailed in the fodder scam, his two notorious brother-in-laws, Sadhu and Subhash Yadav, ran a parallel government which was known for its venality and criminality. Since the courts have banned Lalu from contesting for six years, his wife is fielded in Saran and his daughter from Patliputra. Two of his sons are waiting in the wings to reach the electable age.
Stretching from Danapur Cantonment to Maner in the west and Masaurhi in the south, this essentially rural constituency of Patliputra is dominated by Yadavs, also called Gopes, in this belt. The slogan ‘Rome hai Pope ka, Patliputra hai Gope ka’ (Rome belongs to Pope, Patliputra belongs to Gopes) has replaced a similar slogan for Madhepura, the previous Yadav-dominated constituency in north Bihar after the delimitation of constituencies.
Of the 15 lakh voters, over four lakh are Yadavs, almost 30 per cent. About 1.5 lakh are Muslim voters and about 1.75 lakh voters are from the upper caste Bhumihars. The widening cracks in Yadav camp has ripped apart Lalu’s Muslim-Yadav (MY) coalition in Bihar. An additional reason for Yadav leaders and voters deserting the RJD is the drastic fall in the number of Yadav MLAs in the Bihar assembly. Although Yadavs have the largest representation in the assembly, yet their numbers have dwindled from a whopping 86 in 1995 to 39 in 2010.