Will Pataliputra Voters Reward NDA One More Time or Help RJD Avenge Loss of Face?
The importance of the seat can be gauged from the fact that Misa Bharti’s family members have tirelessly campaigned for her despite internal bickering. On the other hand, several top BJP leaders, including PM Modi, have taken part in public meetings here.
File photos of RJD leader Misa Bharti and Union minister Ramkripal Yadav.
The Pataliputra parliamentary constituency is witnessing an intense battle between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti and one-time loyalist of Lalu’s family Ramkripal Yadav.
The importance of the seat can be understood from the fact that Misa’s family members have tirelessly campaigned for her despite reports of internal bickering among members of the Yadav household.
On the other hand, all the top leaders of state BJP have taken part in public meetings in the nook and corner of Pataliputra.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an early morning gathering here on Wednesday that was called on a very short notice. Modi said, “I know it is difficult to attend a meeting in such a short notice, even if it is election period. But such a large gathering of people amazes me. People are still coming from all sides to bless us.”
The Prime Minister’s visit indicates the rally was called to give a final push to ensure the victory of Yadav, who is seeking a re-election on a BJP ticket from the constituency.
RJD spokesperson Bhai Virendra said, “This (Modi) rally has been called in a short notice out of desperation as the NDA candidate is losing the battle. However, the PM’s endeavour is not going to help because people have already made up their mind to vote against the NDA.”
However, state BJP president Nityanand Rai told News18, “A record number of people came to attend the rally which indicates there would be a repeat of the BJP’s victory and continuation of the NDA government at the Centre. It proves how people are determined to make Modi the Prime Minister again.”
The Pataliputra Lok Sabha seat came into existence post-delimitation of Patna and nearby regions. The constituency is named after the erstwhile capital of the Magadha empire that became an epitome of prosperity and cultural heritage in its time.
Today’s Pataliputra, however, is rural in character and has been a hotbed of Maoist activities. It has also witnessed agrarian crisis.
The constituency has remained in the limelight for long. Ranjan Prasad Yadav, who was once considered the brain behind Lalu Prasad’s politics between 1990-2007, had defeated the RJD chief in 2009.
In 2014, it was another Lalu loyalist, Ramkripal Yadav, who revolted and contested against Misa to emerge winner and become a Union minister.
Hence, the RJD leadership is going all out to avenge the loss of face over the years.
Other members of the Yadav family, senior party leaders, including Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Alok Mehta and Manoj jha, are seen putting their best foot forward to ensure Misa’s victory.
Pataliputra consists of six Assembly constituencies — Danapur, Maner, Phulwari (reserved), Masaurhi (reserved), Paliganj and Bikram.
In the 2015 Assembly election, except Danapur, all the other five seats were won by the JD(U) and RJD combine.
Former chief minister Rabri Devi is campaigning separately for her daughter. On Tuesday, she visited several villages like Chitanwa, Khaspur, Sherpur, Brahmchari in Maner as the idea is to meet maximum number of voters.
Meeting villagers with folded hands, Rabri Devi said, “We are winning all the seats in all the six phases. So come out and vote in maximum numbers in favour of Misa Bharti.”
She was followed by thousands of supporters chanting the popular party slogan ‘jo humse takrayega, wo choor choor ho jayega’ (whoever fights me, would be defeated).”
Rakesh Yadav, a resident of Chitanwa resident, said, “Lalu Yadav is a victim of conspiracy and we are not going to spare those who are instrumental in this. We will vote in large numbers to support his fight for the cause of weaker sections of society.”
However, among the large number of Lalu Yadav’s sympathisers, are voters like Rajdev Sharma, a Naubatpur resident, who think otherwise. “The youth has a fascination for Modi across caste lines. People will vote for Ramkripal as people are sick and tired of dynastic politics.”
A resident of Paliganj that falls under the Pataliputra Lok Sabha seat said, “The Modi factor is there but social equation too is playing an important role in the election.”
There are also some who are upset about the Bihar government’s stand on sand excavation and liquor ban as the livelihood of a large number of people were dependent on this.
Ramji Manjhi, a resident of Danapur, said, “All our means of living were snatched and we are struggling to survive. Do you think we will vote for them who have done this to us?”
As far as demography is concerned, Yadavs form the biggest number of voters, followed by Bhumihars, Rajputs, Kurmis and Muslims. Another 18.36% of the electorate is Scheduled Caste.
The total number of voters in the seat is 17 lakh of whom nine lakh are men and eight lakh are women.
In 2014, Ramkripal Yadav had won by a margin of 40,000 votes (39.16%), while the RJD’s share was 35%. The Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) had polled 9% votes.
The cumulative vote of the BJP and JD(U) is approximately 48%, while grand alliance’s share sums up to another 40%.
The BJP and JD(U) are in an alliance this time. Aware of the rumblings, the NDA leadership has convinced several local influential leaders to join the alliance with their supporters.
Among them is Ashok Kushwaha, a known name in the community, recently joined the BJP.
Another Kushwaha leader Samrat Chaudhary is camping in the region to ensure the victory of Ramkripal Yadav.
Senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has been camping here for a month.
However, whether Pataliputra would remain with the NDA or not will be decided on May 19 when voters exercise their franchise.
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