On being asked about the election scenario, Jitender Rai, a resident of Mohanpur panchayat of Raghopur in Vaishali district who runs a litti-chokha shop at Kankarbagh more in capital Patna confidently predicted that RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav is winning comfortably from his constituency. Raghopur is among the most high-profile seats where the polling is going to take place in the second phase of the ongoing Bihar Assembly election on Tuesday.
Grand Alliance’s chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Prasad Yadav is contesting from the seat which has been his family bastion since 1995. Raghopur is represented by his father Lalu Yadav (1995,2000), mother Rabri Devi (2005) and Tejashwi himself (2015) in the subsequent Assembly elections, except in 2010, when BJP’s Satish Kumar Yadav defeated Rabri Devi. Tejashwi won the last election crushing Satish Yadav by more than 22 thousand votes.
He went on to become the deputy chief minister of the state in the then Grand Alliance government which was composed of RJD, JDU and Congress. Now, in his election campaigns Tejashwi has been repeatedly affirming that the electorate of Raghopur is not selecting an MLA, but a chief minister.
Recalling an incident which happened when Lalu Yadav was the Chief Minister of Bihar Jitender Rai said, “A severe fire broke out in our village which virtually burned everything. Lalu immediately swung into action and made sure every possible help for the villagers. How can we forget that? After all, Raghopur is famous because of Lalu Yadav.”
It needs to be mentioned that immediately after 1995 victory Lalu got built a pontoon bridge connecting Raghopur with Patna. This bridge played an important role in bringing down the social, geographical and economic gap.
Just beside Jitendra, his brother Satyendra Rai, who is a tea seller agreed. “Raghopar has been adequately taken care of by Lalu, Rabri Devi and Tejashwi. Employment is a big issue in our region this time. Lockdown affected us severely since a large number of people of the constituency work as daily wagers in Patna. They cross over Ganga to and fro on boats. We are pleased that Tejashwi has promised ten lakh government jobs. we will give our full support to him.”
Asked about the anger in voters due to Tejashwi’s virtual absence from Raghopur after winning election last time, he rejected any such misgiving among voters: “Tejashwi coming to the constituency or not hardly matters when the development work is being pursued steadily.”
Though a few analysts are forecasting a close contest in Raghopur considering JD (U)’s return to the NDA adding to their 2015 numbers, yet they largely ignore the change in ground scenario after the unprecedented disruptions of corona pandemic and lockdown.
RJD has recently inducted strongman Rama Singh, an influential Rajput leader whose wife Veena Singh is contesting on RJD’s ticket from neighbouring Mahnar Assembly seat. After 1.5 lakh Yadav votes, Rajputs are the second dominant caste in Raghopur with above 40000 votes. In quid pro quo, Rama Singh has been campaigning fiercely for Tejashwi in Raghopur.
Besides Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party candidate Rakesh Raushan, a Rajput is also expected to get some votes of his caste along with a significant portion of 19000 Paswan votes which his party claims to represent. Both of these social groups have been lately voting for NDA.
Most importantly, majority of Bihar watchers are of the view that Yadavs are strongly rooting for RJD this time, which in combination with Muslims —its other core constituency having 20000 thousand votes—gives Tejashwi a decisive edge on the saffron party candidate.
(Shams Khan is contributing editor at the TheNewsweb)