No one in village Chakmohammad knows how good a cricketer Tejashwi Yadav is. But they hope, for the sake of his father and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, he knows how to sweep the opposition out of the boundary.
A school dropout, Tejashwi was warmed the benches of Delhi Daredevils. More importantly for some 75% Yadavs in Raghopur assembly constituency, he is batting on a pitch that was his family’s pocket borough.
Raghopur isn’t the best advertisement for a constituency that yielded two chief ministers — Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi — for 10 years since 1995. Locals tend to compare it with Nalanda, the infrastructure-rich home turf of Nitish Kumar.
But there’s something about Prasad that excites the residents of Raghopur across 44 panchayats — 20 of them on an expansive diara or island in river Ganga. “We wanted the father, but the son will do too,” says Anuj Kumar, 48, of Chakmohammad. He spends an hour and Rs 10 almost every day for a boat ride to his field in village Paharpur on the diara.
Fellow villager Ramadhir Rai says Tejashwi is better equipped than his elder brother Tej Pratap, contesting the Mahua seat nearby, to succeed Prasad. “We hear Tejashwi could become the deputy CM if the Mahagathbandhan wins. Raghopur needs someone who can change its destiny,” says Rai, 55.
But in the 15 years that Prasad and Rabri Devi ruled Bihar, nothing much changed on Raghopur diara. The island did get a few roads and electricity, but its wait for a concrete bridge to the mainland has not ended. A pontoon bridge provides the islanders access to the world beyond for six months a year.
Satish Kumar, a chemical engineer seeking re-election from Raghopur on a BJP ticket after switching over from JD(U), had pursued Nitish Kumar to lay the foundation of a Rs 5,000-crore bridge recently. “I hope it does not remain on paper,” says Manoj Kumar Yadav of Mohanpur village.
For many diara dwellers, Prasad has the image of a Yadav patriarch. But that has not stopped a debate generated by Nitish’s ‘Bihari versus bahari’ call. Many interpreted it as a message to keep Tejashwi out. Unlike Satish, who hails from Rampur village on the diara, Tejashwi’s roots are in the Brahmin-dominated Gopalganj district. This is one googly that he has to negotiate while attempting the sweep, a productive but risky stroke against the spin.