The sons and daughters of a number of prominent Bihar politicians hope to carry on their families’ legacies, if not start their own, by contesting the elections.
In some cases, their possible candidacy is the fallout of others in the family being ineligible. Lalu Prasad has been convicted and his son Tejaswi is too young to contest, but Tejaswi’s sister Misa Bharati is eligible. Former MP Jagdish Sharma too has been convicted in the fodder scam, but has his son Rahul to fall back on.
Two other prominent sons face no such compulsions but were finding their ambitions hindered amid negotiations between the Congress and the RJD. One of them is Samrat Choudhary, son of former assembly deputy speaker Shakuni Choudhary. Samrat, who led the attempt to split the RJD with a group of breakaway MLAs, has been eyeing the Khagaria seat but the Congress too was lobbying for it with the RJD. He reportedly fell out with the RJD after Lalu assured a ticket to his father but not to him.
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Ramvilas Paswan’s son Chirag, too, found his designs on the Jamui seat thwarted by the Congress’s demands. With Paswan having tied up with the BJP instead, he has swung this seat in the bargain and is likely to field Chirag.
The son of another prominent leader to have made his ambitions clear is Mantu Tiwari. Son of expelled JD(U) MP Shivanand Tiwari, Mantu is known to be close to RJD leaders but has not yet joined any party and as such is not in the reckoning for the upcoming elections.
In Lalu’s family, Rabri Devi is likely to contest from Chhapra and another member from the Yadav-dominated Pataliputra seat. With Tejaswi not yet 25 and Lalu’s eldest son Tej Pratap not politically inclined, the talk has been about Misa possibly contesting. There are too many contenders in the RJD for that seat and Lalu would prefer it within the family.
For Chirag, an LJP newcomer who had been praising Rahul Gandhi until the switch of allies, his father wants a safe seat. “Paswan wants Chirag to contest from the reserved Jamui seat currently represented by the JD(U). The Congress was not conceding the seat and the LJP chief chose a safe route,” an LJP leader said.
Chirag entered politics after a brief stint in Bollywood and has been made LJP parliamentary board chairman, something that has upset several senior party leaders. Chirag, who has toured several places in Bihar in the last one-and-a-half years, lacks his father’s earthy appeal but has been trying to learn the finer nuances of Bihar politics.
Samrat, the Parbatta MLA, was 25 when he was made a minister in Rabri Devi’s government. “The RJD has started working as a B team of the Congress. I was feeling suffocated. I was impressed with Nitish Kumar’s commitment to secularism,” says Samrat. His father, who lost from Bhagalpur in 2009, is counted as one of the two most prominent RJD leaders after Lalu, the other being Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.
An RJD leader said: “Samrat had been lobbying for Khagaria but the Congress too wants it. Now that the JD(U) has been exposed as having been behind the effort to split the RJD, it cannot make Samrat a minister.”