Yadav politics at the crossroads after Lalu’s repeated failures
Though Yadavs, in a large number, throw their weight behind Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal in the recently held Lok Sabha election the fact is that the party has suffered five consecutive defeats under his leadership.
True, along with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, the RJD managed to get around 30 per cent votes, yet the three parties ended up getting just seven seats. The Rashtriya Janata Dal, like 2009, once again won only four seats, while Congress two and NCP one. Getting 30 per cent votes is not a bad performance, but when compared to the BJP-combination--which polled about nine per cent more––it is certainly much less.
What is of more concern for the party is that Rabri Devi, the spouse of Lalu Prasad, is repeatedly losing election. She lost in Assembly election 2005 and again in 2010 from two seats. In 2014 Lok Sabha election she contested from Saran, the seat from which her husband won against Rajiv Pratap Rudy of the BJP in 2009. But Rabri lost once again by a relatively wide margin to Rudy.
After the defeat it is introspection time within Yadavs. A section of them did vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party, yet the caste has, till now, not made up its mind to shift its loyalty to the saffron party.
Against the performace of Lalu-Rabri family is the achievement of Pappu Yadav and his wife, Ranjita Ranjan, which has surprised political observers. Both of them won from Madhepura and Supaul parliamentary constituencies. What is more they won on two different parties’ ticket––Pappu, an RJD candidate defeated the JD(U) president, Sharad Yadav in Madhepura, while Ranjita won on the Congress party ticket.
Madhepura and Supaul have fairly large Yadav population, especially in the former, but Muslims are not so strong in them. They comprise 12 and 17 per cent of the voters respectively, yet the husband-wife duo did well to win the seats.
They managed to get votes other than that of Yadavs and Muslims. In contrast most RJD and Congress candidates failed to attract other voters. Not only that this time Pappu Yadav took part in the campaigning outside his or his wife’s constituencies too.
In contrast Lalu’s experiment with the daughter, Misa Bharati, too failed, though Patliputra, perhaps has more Yadav population than Saran. As the sons are not fully fit to take over the mantle of leadership and almost all the top RJD bigwigs have lost the party is facing a unique type of crisis.
On the other hand Lalu is still a convicted politician, whose future is uncertain.
With Ram Kripal gone––now a BJP MP––brothers-in-law deserted him long back and other Yadav leaders––except Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav––having lost the election, the RJD supremo is facing a difficult challenge.
Whether Lalu likes it or not in the days to come the clout of Pappu Yadav may increase in the Yadav politics, if not on RJD as such. Though he is a controversial figure and very much different from Lalu Yadav, yet he has his own hold in the Kosi belt of Bihar.
Pappu, almost half generation junior to Lalu, has much influence among the younger generation of Yadavs. So if his clout increases within the party too in the next few months or years it will not be something surprising.
But Pappu’s image is of strongman and had a questionable past. In the future he too may face legal hurdles. He has already spent quite a few years in jail in a murder case.
Anyway the Yadav politics is at the crossroads. Before Lalu Prasad Yadav, it was Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav, who used to be considered as the most towering leader of the caste. The big question is: if Lalu started losing hold on his castemen who would be the next to take over the leadership.
It is pity for the man who ruled the state directly or indirectly for 15 long years that today his prime concern is how to retain hold on the bungalow in New Delhi. He wants anyone from the family to enter any House of Parliament so that he may play politics at the national level too.
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