Akhilesh Yadav’s Challenger and Birha Singer Dinesh Lal Yadav Facing His Own Music in Azamgarh
A team of singers from the SP camp has composed musical satires against the self-proclaimed folk music champion, Dinesh Lal Yadav, who is the BJP candidate from Azamgargh.
Dinesh Lal Yadav
With the BJP fielding Bhojpuri actor Dinesh Lal Yadav, also known as Nirahua, to take on Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Azamgarh, the SP cadre have come up with a special way to fight their rival.
A team of singers from the SP camp has composed musical satires against the self-proclaimed folk music champion. Since Nirahua’s announcement as the BJP candidate from Azamgarh, local party workers and supporters started sharing a video and audio form of Birha which praises Akhilesh and the grand alliance, and implies that Nirahua will be decimated in Azamgarh.
Birha or Biraha is a popular folk genre in Bhojpuri-speaking districts of UP and Bihar. The word itself originates from the Hindi word ‘Virah’ which means separation. This genre is mood-based and the theme revolves around separation of a young man from his family, his beloved, motherland and ancestral village.
The trajectory of folk songs took a sharp turn when Nirahua started his career as a Birha singer. After the great success of his first number, Nirahua Satal Rahe, he continued with his non-traditional way of singing. A resident of Tandwa village in Ghazipur, Nirahua participated in Bigg Boss Season 6 in 2012 and joined the BJP in the last week of March.
One of the songs used by SP supporters is Judaay Jayiba Nirahoo, which talks about Nirahua’s plight “after being defeated” by the SP-BSP alliance. The number has been composed by 40-year-old Ram Keval Yadav, a senior Birha singer who hails from Jahurabad assembly seat in Ballia constituency. The Birha also accuses Nirahua of betraying Akhilesh Yadav by joining the BJP and contesting against him.
“Dinesh bhai is like my batch mate. We started singing Birha at the same time, but destiny has made him famous in all his ventures and people like us are still trying to make a mark in the regional music industry. But these are elections and I have been an SP sepoy for 20 years. I can never leave Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) and Akhilesh Ji in such tough times. I created this composition the moment I came to know about Dinesh’s announcement as candidate against our national president.”
Similarly, Dharmendra Solanki (42), an SP patriot and a regional singer from Maiyil township of Ballia-Deoria border, has also released a couple of musical numbers to promote SP and the grand alliance.
“I have been singing Birha and other Bhojpuri numbers for the SP for 20 years. My work has been widely appreciated by Netaji and Akhilesh Ji. I was also present in the Azamgarh rally; Akhilesh bhaiyya will easily win these elections. I wish I can create more such songs in order to contribute in my own way for my party and my leader.”
Since most Birha songs were about the common man’s troubles and sentiments, it quickly became the most popular form of folk music among farmers and labourers in the Bhojpuri and Awadhi region.
In the last few decades, Birha has evolved as a suitable political tool for parties especially within the rural areas of eastern UP and the adjoining areas of neighbouring Bihar. Birha is now a secular song form which is not limited by any association with any sect, ritual or community. The expansion of Birha’s melodic content with versatile narratives has turned it into a suitable vehicle for professionals who adopted it as a career in the last two decades.
What may work against Nirahua is the belief that his brand of Birha damaged the centuries-old image of the folk art. Though the BJP’s social media wing has widely used his musical numbers, has many within the party too were surprised by his candidature.
“This is an example of vinaash kaale vipreet buddhi (self-destructive thought). Ramakant Yadav would had been a better candidate against Akhilesh Yadav. This singer knows nothing about regional politics,” one such leader said.
(Author is a freelance journalist based in Uttar Pradesh. Views are personal)
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