The roar of helicopters is reverberating across the sky over Madhepura Lok Sabha Constituency in Bihar. The school and college grounds in the constituency are getting turned into temporary helipads.
As if to combat the chopper campaign of Sharad Yadav, chairman of Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD), contesting under the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) symbol, as part of the Grand Alliance of the Congress, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, campaigning for Dinesh Chandra Yadav of Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has also chosen to ride the skies.
The chopper of Tejashwi Yadav, son of Lalu Prasad Yadav and the current Opposition Leader of Bihar Assembly, who is working to ensure the victory of Sharad Yadav, is also cutting into the air space in between.
Madhepura is criss-crossed with railway lines, thanks to post of Union Railway Minister being almost reserved for Bihar for decades.
But the roads in the constituency are damaged and riddled with potholes, which was the major reason for Sharad Yadav choosing the aerial mode of transport.
However, Dinesh Chandra Yadav, Sharad Yadav’s own former disciple, can flaunt only the luxury of a motor car, no choppers.
The sitting MP Pappu Yadav, contesting as an independent candidate as his recently formed Jan Adhikar Party (Loktantrik) has not yet been recognised by the Election Commission, is keeping a low profile. The Grand Alliance is exerting pressure upon Pappu Yadav through Ranjeet Ranjan, his wife and Congress candidate at Supaul, not to split the anti-BJP votes.
The LJD general secretary Arun Srivastava and Yuva Janata Dal leader Salim Madavoor are doing the rounds of the dhabas to eavesdrop at the local discussions in order to garner the response of the voters on Sharad Yadav, who had been the strongest opponent of Lalu Prasad Yadav, joining the Grand Alliance. According to reports from the dhabas, the voters are not averse to fielding their votes in the symbol of RJD even though they are rather indifferent to Sharad Yadav. Being a Yadav fortress, Madhepura is known for having elected only Yadav candidates, with Acharya Kripalani being the only exemption.
And there are reports that the Yadav voters are not taking lightly the zeal shown by Nitish Kumar, from the Kurmi community, to defeat Sharad Yadav, a prominent member of the Yadav community.
Sharad Yadav taking it easy
Sharad Yadav, who has had four victories and three failures in Madhepura, is not unduly worried by the electoral battle.
He sleeps till 10 am every day, and gets out for the campaigning by mid day.
More than five public meetings on a day can get him pissed off and Sanjay Yadav, the RJD leader in charge of his campaigning is bound to get a piece of his mind.
More than going to meet the public, Sharad Yadav prefers the public to come to him, promising to vote.
The campaigning will end by five in the evening and Yadav will return to the place of accommodation.
Then, the party members and public can visit him and pay obeisance at his feet.
Excerpts from the interview with Sharad Yadav:
• Is it a triangular contest in Madhepura?
Triangular contest? What Triangle? The contest is between NDA and the Grand Alliance
• Can Pappu Yadav split the Yadav votes?
Its not possible. Sheer humbug.
• How many seats does the Grand Alliance expects in Bihar?
The Grand Alliance will sweep Bihar. The LS results will be a judgment on both the Modi government as well as the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar. The people of Bihar had given the verdict in favour of the Grand Alliance in the last Assembly polls.
• What are the chances of the Grand Alliance at national level?
Last time, BJP came to power with just 31 per cent of the votes. This time, the attempt is to prevent the splitting of anti-BJP votes as much as possible. The chances for the Grand Alliance getting a majority are quite high.
• Will you be supporting Rahul Gandhi for the post of the prime minister?
It’s not right to name anyone right now. All decisions will be taken after due consultations.
• Will the LJD–RJD merger happen soon?
The discussions will be held after the polls. Not just the RJD and LJD, but some other parties may also become parties to the merger. I’m not giving any names now. Even the name of the party may get changed after the merger.
• Is the LJD Kerala unit in support of the merger?
Discussions were held with M P Veerendra Kumar. The Kerala unit is also in support of the merger.
• Will it pose a problem that the Kerala unit of LJD is now a part of the Left Democratic Front?
The state units have the freedom to make their own decisions. In many places, there are even alliances between the Congress and Left parties.