Lalu-Nitish alliance finds few takers in RJD stronghold

Lalu-Nitish alliance finds few takers in RJD stronghold

“Morning shows the day,” Lalu Prasad had quipped in the Queen’s language when somebody had asked him how successful his new-found alliance with Nitish Kumar would be. “This by-election is just a trailer. For the full film, wait for next year’s Assembly poll,” Lalu, not very fond of English, had continued in the same language.

The RJD leader has been hinting that the coming together of Mandal forces in this caste-conscious state would spell doom for the “Kamandal” (the BJP), but at the ground level, the tie-up has apparently not gone down well, particularly in his fiefdom of Chapra, from where he had won for the first time in 1977.

“Nitish is on a downhill journey. He does not have the charisma, popularity and authority any more to transfer his votes to the RJD. In fact, members of Nitish's caste, the Kurmis, were never numerically stronger than Lalu’s Yadav brethren, who still stand by him like a rock,” said 70-year-old Tarkeshwar Singh, who runs a dhaba.

“The Bharat milap (the tale of reunion of Ram and Bharat in the Ramayan) of Nitish and Lalu has not been seen kindly by the politically conscious people here. By joining hands with Lalu, Nitish is simply helping the return of the Jungle Raj. The increase in crime rate, of late, provides the clearest evidence of what Lalu often says these days: ‘Morning shows the day’. Imagine what the crime rate will be if Lalu and Nitish succeed in these by-elections,” said a retired teacher from Chapra, who did not wish to be named.

The educator’s remarks are not wide off the mark. In adjoining the Hajipur Assembly constituency, where by-election will be held along with Chapra on August 21, the response to the Lalu-Nitish rally a couple of days ago was lukewarm, particularly in the backdrop of their reunion after a gap of 20 years.

“Some mediapersons, and even politicians, think that the vote percentage of the RJD and the JD(U) could beat the BJP. But give me one reason why we should vote for the Nitish-Lalu combination. And why not continue to back Narendra Modi’s party? After all, this prime minister is assertive, talks sense, and, unlike Nitish, has put his ego on the backburner while thinking about the betterment of the country,” said Rajesh Singh, a local unemployed youth.

And what about the price rise, inflation, job avenues?

“You want every solution in two-three months' time?” he asked angrily, giving clear indication of which way the wind is blowing in Chapra and Hajipur. His only fear is that if it continued to rain heavily even on the polling day, the voter turnout could be poor and so the winner would be decided by a small margin.

Bihar RJD chief Ram Chandra Purve, however, is confident of the alliance doing well in the by-polls. “The coming together of Lalu and Nitish will herald a new chapter in Indian politics. Just wait and watch,” he said.

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