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In Lalu’s name, Misa goes to Nitish’s core voters
Campaigning for the Pataliputra Lok Sabha poll and leading an entourage of RJD supporters, Misa Bharati tests the pulse of non-Yadav OBC and Mahadalit voters. She starts with a tour of Naubatpur area Sunday.
The RJD candidate emerges from a white Fortuner at Mahato-dominated Baduna village with supporters shouting “Dr Misa Bharati zindabad”. At the house of Dhananjay Mahato, she tells people how “sycophants” have brought development to only some villages and neglected the others.
Moving through narrow lanes, she talks to the women in Bhojpuri. The crowd following her talks about corruption under Nitish Kumar rule.
“Now even a peon at block office thinks he is an officer. During Laluji’s rule, even a small party worker was offered a chair,” says a middle-aged man.
Though Mahatos are seen as supporters of the JD(U), Baduna village with over 800 votes shows an RJD tilt. A woman tells Misa that Nitish could not give her a ration card. Misa assures her her problems will be taken care of.
At Mahato-dominated Dihira village, Misa interacts with women under a tree. “I am here to seek your blessings. I know your problems. I am told teachers are not regular in schools.”
Asked about the Modi impact on the polls, Misa passes the question on to villagers: “Have you heard of Modi?” A few murmur in reply. But when she says: “Have you heard about Laluji?”, the “yes” is a loud chorus.
About the RJD ousting Ram Kripal Yadav, who is contesting against her, she says: “It is he who left. We have not deserted him. If my uncles Ranjan Prasad Yadav — the JD(U) candidate— and Ram Kripal Yadav (BJP) had taken care of me in my childhood, I took care of them by treating them to their choicest dishes”.
Some villagers in Dihira, which has over 1,100 voters, are not happy with Ram Kripal for visiting only upper caste areas. “Earlier, he used to come to us. But he feels elevated in company of the BJP,” says Ram Uday Singh, a Mahato. “I would like to see Modi become PM, but I cannot vote for his candidate here. It is a split vote here, more in favour of the RJD,” says the village medical practitioner.
In the Mahadalit tola of Khajuri, women tell Misa about the absence of a bridge on village canals. Mahadalits, whom the JD(U) considers core voters, seem undecided. They talk about JD(U) MP Ranjan Prasad Yadav seldom visiting them. “Lantern (the RJD symbol) is the choice,” says an elderly woman.
At the Yadav village of Ramnagar, Ajay Kumar, a villager, says: “Ranjanji just crossed the village. He had to introduce himself. This happened only because he came after five years.”
There is a discussion about how Lalu would gain because of the JD(U)-BJP split. They say Lalu gave them pride and a social status which waned after the RJD fell out of power. “We will vote for the lantern,” says Upendra Kumar, a farmer.
Some girls have Misa masks on. “RJD workers distributed them,” says a villager. When a villager whispers, “Some people will vote for Ram Kripal too”, a Misa supporter takes offence. A supporter says: “It is lantern all the way. There should be no discussion about Ram Kripal here.”