It was not without reason that L K Advani,and even second-rung BJP leaders,did not hit the campaign trail at Sahebpur Kamal to canvass for the JD-U candidate.
The party has fielded Parveen Amanullah wife of Bihar cabinet secretary Afzal Amanullah and daughter of former MP and diplomat Syed Shahabuddin from the seat. While Amanullah,as deputy commissioner of Dhanbad,is said to have outlined the plan to arrest Advani when his rath yatra entered Bihar in 1990,Shahabuddin is a member of the Babri Masjid Action Committee that is crusading for the rebuilding of the mosque.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar obviously exercised caution in choosing Parveens campaigners to save her from any sticky situation,particularly arising out of her fathers trenchant criticism of ally BJPs ideology.
As has happened in the case of two other candidates IAS officers Rajya Sabha MPs R C P Sinha and N K Singh former IAS officers) it was JD-U national president Sharad Yadav and Nitish himself who campaigned for Parveen,too.
JD-U workers describe Parveen as a symbol of woman power at a time when Nitish has granted 50 per cent reservation to women at panchayat levels.
Parveen,for her part,tells voters how she intends to further use panchayats as powerful tools of development in rural areas.
Having learnt the local dialect,she easily interacts with the voters. At Sahebur Kamal last week,people had jostled to catch a glimpse of the 50-year-old botany graduate from Delhis Miranda House.
Parveen was till now best known as an RTI activist,who also took up the cause of poor patients visiting the Patna Medical College and Hospital. She even met Nitish several times,at his janta darbar,to raise the cases of harassment of RTI applicants at the hands of the police.
To the charge of being an outsider by her opponents,she retorts: In Patna,I had been rallying for the cause of entire Bihar. Social cause is not region-specific. I will bring development at different levels in my constituency if elected.
Amidst the high-pitched battle,Parveen also has her MBA daughter,Rahmat (28),and Supreme Court lawyer son Azmat (23) as campaigners. Rahmat has taken the entire responsibility of event management from deciding on the place for the chopper to land and arranging for garlands to breakfast packets. Azmat has been doing door-to-door campaign, she said.
Speaking to The Indian Express,Parveen said her key opponent,RJD heavyweight Narayan Yadav,who has represented the seat till 2005,symbolised the fear factor with his muscle power.
Yadav,however,rubbished the charge,saying the JD-U has been representing the seat for the last five years,Therefore,it should take the blame for the fear factor running high among the people.