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 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
A HOUSEHOLD NAME
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
MUSLIMS WITH RJD
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.