Bihariganj (Madhepura): She jumped into the electoral battle to protect her father Sharad Yadav's political legacy, but the journey to success in Bihariganj assembly seat is an arduous one for Subhashini Raj Rao, who as a Congress candidate is locked in a multi-corner contest in the constituency. A part of the Madhepura Lok Sabha seat, Bihariganj will go to polls in the third and last phase on November 7.
Subhashini has chosen her father's tested turf of Madhepura to jump into the rough and tumble of politics. Sharad Yadav, a veteran socialist leader, has represented Madhepura in Parliament four times and has also lost from there many times, including in the last two Lok Sabha elections. Though a native of Madhya Pradesh, Yadav chose Madhepura Lok Sabha constituency to fight elections as a mark of respect to B P Mandal, the author of the Mandal Commission report who was born here.
The Mandal Commission report, providing 27 per cent reservation in government jobs to Other Backward Classes, was implemented by the V P Singh government at the centre in which Yadav was a senior member. Yadav along with RJD president Lalu Prasad and incumbent Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had played an important role in the "Mandal movement" that paved the way for implementation of the jobs quota recommendations in 1990.
The 73-year-old Yadav is admitted to a hospital in Delhi for past many days and hence his daughter has taken up the task to carry forward his political legacy. Her election posters in the constituency introduces her as Subhashini Sharad Yadav'.
This has been my father Sharad Yadav's karmabhoomi and the kind of support and love that you have given him over the past 25-30 years, I too can feel the same here today, she told an election at Bihariganj on Wednesday. I am your candidate, your daughter. I have come here to serve you, to fulfil the dreams of my father, she told the crowd. The rally was also addressed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who praised Sharad Yadav for his works, and asked the crowd to vote for her. I have not said this in any of my speeches in Bihar elections, he told the crowd as he appealed them to vote for his sister. I want a guarantee from you that you will make Sharad ji's daughter win the election. I am not asking for myself, but for you and Sharad Yadav ji, who is your leader. Married to a Congress family of Haryana, Subhashini Raj Rao joined the grand old party on the eve of Bihar polls and was fielded by the party from Bihariganj assembly seat.
Though Madhepura seat would have been an ideal launchpad for her, the Congress had to settle for Bihariganj as in the seat-sharing arrangement Madhepura went to the RJD, which has re-nominated its old hand Chandrasekhar. In her maiden electoral plunge, Subhashini is pitted against two time JD(U) MLA Niranjan Mehta, Lok Janshakti Party candidate Vijay Kumar Singh and Prabhash Kumar of Janadhikar Party (JAP), which is headed by former Madhepura MP and a prominent Yadav caste politician Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav. There are a total of 22 candidates on the seat and as per the voter list of 2019, there are 3,00,885 electorate in this constituency. Dinesh Chandra Yadav of the (JD-U) had won from Madhepura seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, defeating Sharad Yadav, who had contested from the RJD of Lalu Prasad. Though Yadavs form a bulk of the electors in the constituency, there is a significant presence of other backward castes such as Kushwahas and Extremely Backward Castes.
Sitting MLA Niranjan Mehta, a Kushwaha by caste, could lose a section of votes to fellow casteman and LJP nominee Vijay Kumar Singh. Subhasini's path also does not look very easy.
JAP candidate Prabhash Kumar, a Yadav by caste who was once a favourite of Lalu Prasad and had served as the state general secretary of the RJD, left the party after the seat went to the Congress and joined Pappu Yadav-led outfit. As such, Subhasini might not get the full support of the dominant partner party, the RJD. Sources in the political circles say that local Grand Alliance coalition leaders and workers are not happy over an outsider being fielded as a "parachute candidate" The recent electoral history of the constituency is also not very encouraging for the grand old party.
The Congress had not contested the last state polls since the seat had gone to the JD(U), which was then its ally alongside the RJD, but in 2010 elections, Congress nominee Ranjeet Ranjan, the wife of Pappu Yadav, had stood third. The LJP candidate's wife Renu Kushwaha had won the Bihariganj seat as a JD(U) candidate in 2010, bagging 79,062 votes while Ranjeet Ranjan had received 27,554. Prabhash Kumar, then in the RJD, had stood second with 29,065 cotes.
Subhashini's main JD(U) rival is relying on Nitish Kumar's development mantra and also highlighting the poor governance and law and order situation in the state under the RJD's 15-year rule. Nitish Kumar, while campaigning for his party nominee recently, refrained from speaking anything against Sharad Yadav, his former party colleague, and Subhashini.
Locals are divided in their appraisals of the government and the opposition. Tej Narain Yadav, Raj Kumar Yadav, Ram Chandra Sah and Sunil Kumar gave pass mark to the JD(U), happy with the development work carried out by the Nitish Kuamr government. However, others highlighted joblessness and what they perceived as corruption under the NDA government.