Indian Express

Lalu counts 24 for himself, finds exit polls ‘ullu banawing’

Some party leaders arrive, talk to Lalu and leave. He is in no mood to entertain visitors until results are out. Tweet This
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Lalu Prasad at his Patna home. Lalu Prasad at his Patna home.

The RJD challenge to NDA in the Lok Sabha polls is locked up in EVMs to be unveiled on May 16. RJD chief Lalu Prasad has thrown a challenge at a TV channel that gave a clear majority for BJP-led NDA in Bihar and much-less-than-expected seats for RJD in exit polls.

A reporter of the channel who approached Lalu for an interview was told, “I will give you an interview provided you stay with me till the results and your channel’s prediction matches”.

Against Lalu’s own calculation of RJD winning 24 seats or more, the exit polls showed a poor RJD show and a tough fight for his wife Rabri Devi and daughter Misa Bharti. Lalu has been calling up RJD candidates for feedback from all constituencies. He has also been consulting journalists.

Back at his 10 Circular Road home on Tuesday evening, he is calling up candidates to get their views when some journalists call on him.

When told that the RJD-Congress might get 12-15 seats, he says, “At least you are giving us this number. An English channel dismissed us. It is nothing but ullu banawing,” he said repeating a line from a popular ad.

He calls up West Champaran candidate Raghunath Jha who reports that a section of Yadav voters have switched loyalties and voted for the BJP in the final leg of polling. He talks to Jha for a while and concludes with a “theek hai”. He remembers every sea the party contested and needs no paperwork.

But the conversation suggests a shift in some Yadav and Muslim votes to rival candidates. He is banking on strong Muslim Yadav consolidation, with some EBC, Dalit and upper caste support. He said exit polls would go wrong the way it did in 2004, when RJD won 22 seats.

From East Champaran where his trusted aide Vinod Srivastava contested, the news is not encouraging. But Lalu says, “How can I believe in exit polls? People braved the scorching sun to vote for me. Exit poll is nothing but creating share market. Corporate lobby is at work.”

He continued: “Let the results come out. We will stop Narendra Modi in Bihar. The RJD alone will win 24 seats, The NCP’s Tariq Anwar is also winning and the Congress will do well. Modi will be a disaster for the country”.

Some party leaders arrive, talk to Lalu and leave. He is in no mood to entertain visitors until results are out.

A party source said Lalu looked worried particularly about Saran where his wife Rabri is the contestant, and Pataliputra where the candidate is his daughter Misa Bharati.

“Saran seat is linked to his prestige. He is wary of Ram Kripal Yadav in Pataliputra. It is a matter of pride,” said the source.

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