Lalu Try­ing to Stop Modi March

Poor­van­chal bat­tle­field of east­ern UP and north Bi­har, with its 24 seats, is the only re­gion that stands be­tween Naren­dra Modi and the throne of Delhi

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - JY­OTI MAL­HO­TRA

The Poor­van­chal bat­tle­field of east­ern UP and north Bi­har, with its 24 seats, is the only re­gion that stands be­tween Naren­dra Modi and the throne of Delhi. From Bettiah, the most im­por­tant town in Bi­har’s West Cham­paran con­stituency, to Moti­hari in the heart of East Cham­paran to Padrauna in east­ern UP, where RPN Singh is one of a cou­ple of Congress party can­di­dates fly­ing the party flag in these parts, Modi’s march to power has been un­der­pinned by a gi­gan­tic ma­chine that has sys­tem­at­i­cally taken all the levers of power into ac­count: can­di­date, caste, re­li­gious po­lar­i­sa­tion, and, not the least, the me­dia.

Every­where in the Poor­van­chal, Modi has be­come a house­hold word. Moti­hari’s sit­ting BJP MP Radha Mo­han Singh is likely to win again, not be­cause he has done any work, but be­cause he is Modi’s can­di­date.

Congress has been sim­ply blown away by the am­bi­tion and the clock­work strat­egy of the Modi jug­ger­naut, mak­ing old-timers re­call the good old days when Indira Gandhi used to do the same thing. The un­spo­ken agree­ment is that Congress will fall to its low­est tally in this elec­tion, set­ting off its own in­ter­nal com­bus­tion.

And yet, the “Modi wave” seems to have been some­what stymied by re­gional par­ties, like Lalu Prasad’s RJD in Bi­har (in al­liance with Congress), and SP and BSP in Ut­tar Pradesh. Arvind Ke­jriwa l of t he Aam Aadmi


Party may deliver his best per­for­mance yet in Varanasi, with the re­gion’s Mus­lims sup­port­ing him in large num­bers, but it may not be enough in the face of the Modi ma­chine. I n nor t h and cent ra l Bi­har, back­ward caste vot­ers are join­ing hands with the Mus­lims to vote st rate­gic a l ly agai nst the BJP can­di­dates. In Saran, Lalu’s wife Rabri Devi is con­test­ing against BJP’s Ra­jiv Pratap Rudy; in Ma­hara­j­ganj, BJP’s Dhomal Singh is be­ing chal­lenged by RJD’s Prab­hu­nath Singh; and in Vaishali, RJD’s Raghu­vansh Prasad Singh is likely to keep his seat. Lalu has openly chal­lenged


Modi, rev­el­ling in his re­newed role as an up­holder of the coun­try’s sec­u­lar fab­ric. RJD can­di­dates like Raghu­nath J ha in Paschim Cham­paran openly ac­knowl­edge the sup­port pro­vided by the Yadu­van­shis. “I have a 1.5 lakh-strong ‘gwala’ reg­i­ment sup­port­ing me,” Jha said. Adding to Lalu’s con­fi­dence is the fact that Bi­har’s 16.5% Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion has largely veered away from Ni­tish Ku­mar’s JD(U) to RJD. The event that led to this con­sol­i­da­tion was ab­di­ca­tion by JD(U) can­di­date from Kis­hanganj, Akhtarul Imam, in favour of RJD-Congress can­di­date Maulana As­rarul Haq. But just as this elec­tion in Bi­har has been no­table for Lalu’s re­vival, it is equally re­mark­able the man­ner in which Ni­tish Ku­mar’s s t a r h a s b e en more or le s s eclipsed. His ral­lies are sparsely at­tended, es­pe­cially if you com­pare them to the or­gan­ised gath­er­ings of the BJP can­di­dates. Com­pet­ing road­shows and ral­lies in Varanasi notwith­stand­ing, the Poor­van­chal is the real re­gion to watch out for.


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