Tej Pratap faces tough battle in Bihar's Hasanpur

Bihar Polls: Tej Pratap Yadav faces stiff challenge in Hasanpur

Tej Pratap's principal rival Raj Kumar Rai of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's party JD(U) who belongs to the same caste is holding the seat since 2010

Lalu Prasad's elder son Tej Pratap Yadav. Credit: PTI Photo

He relinquished Mahua and shifted to "safe" seat of Hasanpur assembly segment, but the gamble seems tough for Lalu Prasad's elder son Tej Pratap Yadav who is pitted against a formidable JD(U) sitting legislator.

Hasanpur seat is located in the Samastipur district of Bihar but comes under the Khagaria Lok Sabha constituency.

Tej Pratap Yadav, who had plunged into electoral politics winning from Mahua assembly constituency in Vaishali district in 2015 elections, left it this time and chose to enter into the fray from the Hasanpur seat.

It is said in the political circles that he had to move out of Mahua because of the possibility of his estranged wife challenging him there in the election. Mahua is located near the Parsa assembly segment, a bastion of his wife Aishwarya Rai's father Chandrika Roy's family.

Tej Pratap and Aishwarya's marriage was in trouble within six months of them tying the nuptial knot in May 2018.

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Their marital dispute case is pending with a Patna Family Court. The fear was not untrue, as Aishwarya is seen going to the people of the Parsa constituency and raking up "ill-treatment" meted out to her by Lalu Prasad's family and seeking justice for her.

But the outing to Hasanpur appears to be no cakewalk for Prasad's maverick son.

Though it is a Yadav-dominated constituency, Tej Pratap's principal rival Raj Kumar Rai of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's party JD(U) who belongs to the same caste is holding the seat since 2010.

There are a total of eight candidates contesting for the seat which will go to vote in the second phase on November 3. The Janadhikar Party (JAP) of former Madhepura MP and an influential Yadav politician Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav has also fielded his candidate Arjun Yadav for the seat.

Realising that the journey is arduous, Tej Pratap is working hard and leaving nothing to chance. He is campaigning in the constituency since the filing of nomination on October 13. The RJD leader is using all the trick up his sleeve to match the style of his charismatic politician father for a better connect with the voters.

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He is seen playing cricket with the youngsters during campaigning, riding a tractor in a field, playing the flute and eating 'litti-chokha' (famous Bihari food) with the people.

Though the Yadav votes are the deciding factor, Muslims and other Backward castes like Kushwahas and Nishads (fishermen) also have a significant presence.

As per the voter list of 2019, there are 2,74,252 electorates in Hasanpur. Yadavs constitute nearly 65,000 of the total voters, while Muslims electorate are at 25,000. Forward-caste count is around 20,000 while Paswans strength is around 18,000, Kushwahas at 16,000 and Extremely Backward Castes at 13,000.

The Yadavs and Muslims had voted for Raj Kumar Rai in both 2010 and 2015 state polls. However, this time, son of a prominent face of the mandal politics (Lalu Prasad) is in the fray, Rai cannot count on their total support this time as "MY" (Muslim-Yadav) have been the support base of the RJD since its inception nearly 23 years ago.

The assembly segment is part of Khagaria Parliamentary seat from where LJP's Choudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser is the second consecutive term MP. Chirag Paswan has not fielded any candidate for the seat which the political circles see as an alliance with Prasad's son in battleground Hasanpur.

The constituency is known because of the Hasanpur Sugar and Energy Mill Ltd and Tej Pratap has pitched his camp office near it. A tea seller close to the mill Ramashray Yadav said, "We will vote in the name of Lalu Prasad."

He said Prasad has been sent to jail due to "conspiracy" hatched by his rivals and hence he needs support. Laxmi Paswan and Rambriksha Paswan of Rampur village said, "They will vote for Narendra Modi who has provided us gas cylinders and free ration." Asked that Modi's party is not contesting from here, they said JD(U) is his partner party.

A vegetable vendor Nursat near Hasanpur chowk said that she will vote for Lalu Prasad because he always cared for them. However, Ramesh Kushwaha said, "Nitish Kumar has improved road, electricity and hospital so the JD(U) should win so that all this could continue."

Tej Pratap Yadav told the visiting PTI-Bhasha reporter, "No development work has been done in this constituency as is evident from the broken roads. I have come to develop it. I did a lot of development work in Mahua and on peoples' demand have come to Hasanpur to do so in the next five years," he said.

But, Raj Kumar Rai dubs him a 'parachute candidate'. "He (Tej Pratap) knows nothing about Hasanpur. He does not even know the roads in the area and has to move around with the help of locals. What kind of development can he do here?" he wryly said.