Tejashwi Yadav is going from one region to another daily to drum up support for the Grand Alliance so that he could become Chief Minister of Bihar, but winning his own seat won’t be easy as is up against an experienced BJP rival in Raghopur constituency, one who is backed by Nitish Kumar too.
A part of the Hajipur Lok Sabha seat, Raghopur assembly segment in Vaishali district will vote in the second phase on November 3.
31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav, the younger son of Lalu Yadav, had taken contested from Raghopur in 2015, when he had barely reached the qualifying age of 25 for contesting elections.
He won the election and went on to become the deputy to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who he called chacha (paternal uncle) at the time, an expression of respect and alliance. But the alliance fell apart in 2017, and now Tejashwi Yadav is challenging Nitish Kumar for the top post.
The Grand Alliance, spearheaded by Lalu Yadav’s party RJD and with the Congress and Left parties as its members, has already announced Tejashwi Yadav as its chief ministerial candidate.
The Raghopur seat is a Yadav-dominated constituency which Lalu Yadav had won in 1995, 2000, and his wife Rabri Devi had won in 2005.
Tejashwi Yadav’s main rival now, BJP’s Satish Kumar, had emerged a giant killer, defeating Rabri Devi in the 2010 state election.
Satish Kumar, however, had lost to Tejashwi Yadav in 2015, when Tejashwi Yadav was a nominee of an alliance comprising his RJD, the JD(U) and the Congress, while the BJP had contested alone.
The equation has changed since. Nitish Kumar’s party JD(U) is back with the BJP and the RJD is in an alliance with the Congress and the Left parties.
Tejashwi Yadav and Satish Kumar are among 12 candidates contesting from Raghopur in the 2020 Bihar polls.
The Chirag Paswan-headed Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has fielded Rakesh Roshan to make the contest triangular.
While, Satish Kumar is canvassing across the constituency daily, Tejashwi Yadav has not been able to devote much time because he is busy campaigning across the state as an RJD ‘star campaigner’ in the absence of his father Lalu Yadav, who is serving a jail term in fodder scam cases.
Tejashwi Yadav had addressed a gathering of his supporters in Raghopur on the day of filing nomination on October 14, and told them that they would be electing a Chief Minister. Tejashwi Yadav returned to Raghopur on October 29 to seek support from the voters.
As per the voter list of 2019, there are 3,36,613 electorate in Raghopur assembly segment.
While over 1.30 lakh Yadavs form the bulk of the voters, the constituency has a significant presence of Rajputs, whose electorate size is estimated at around 40,000 followed by Muslims 22,000 and Paswans 18,000.
“He (Tejashwi Yadav) has lost trust of the people of Raghopur because he did not do any substantial development work and only cheated voters for five years,” Satish Kumar, who is also a Yadav, says about his main rival.
“Though he (Tejashwi Yadav) is trying to get Yadav votes by claiming that he is going to become the Chief Minister after the elections, people are not interested,” the BJP candidate said.
Asked if Tejashwi Yadav has the edge because of the fact that his father is the tallest leader of Yadavs in Bihar politics, BJP’s Satish Kumar Yadav told news agency Press Trust of India that “The achievements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre and Nitish Kumar in Bihar will comfortably see me through.”
Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, also a Yadav, has a great influence among the caste, which is an advantage for the BJP candidate.
“If Lalu Yadav’s name guarantees win for his sons, why has Tej Pratap run away to Hasanpur from Mahua in Vaishali? Even Tejashwi Yadav was planning to shift to some other constituency, but was given a false belief by his advisors not to do so as he will win from Raghopur by hoodwinking people in the name of being CM candidate of the opposition,” BJP’s Satish Kumar said.
On LJP’s Rakesh Roshan, Satish Kumar said, “Had Ramvilas Paswan been alive this would not have happened. But, the LJP candidate is nowhere in the race as even the Paswan voters are not backing him.”