For 40 years, his father was the mukhiya of Mohanpur village in Madhubani, the heart of Mithilanchal in north Bihar. He gave up a successful transport business in Darbhanga to return to his ancestral village and get elected as the mukhiya (village head). But today, Ram Kumar Yadav struggles with a political dilemma shared by many in his community.
“About 70 per cent Yadavs are still with Lalu Prasad. There is a sympathy wave after his jail stint. In a country with 175 lakh crore worth corruption scams, why lock in someone for an old scam of 500 crore?” asks Yadav, a member of Rashtriya Janata Dal. But he says this is a change from the past, when almost the entire community backed Lalu. “There is a 30 per cent dent, which is because many Yadavs feel Narendra Modi must be tested once.” He claims this is because Modi does not have a family, and there is little chance of him accumulating wealth for relatives.
Yadav’s dilemma is more intense because he has been, for a long time, associated with Baba Ramdev, himself a Yadav. “Ramdev Maharaj is totally with Modi,” he says. An additional factor for him is that the elected BJP MP from Madhubani, Hukum Deo Yadav, has been supportive. “He has helped sanction four roads in my area and cooperated each time I have asked for support,” he said.
Dayanand Yadav - a hardware shop-owner — joins in, and says, “I used to vote for RJD but will go with Modi for three reasons; he is a good leader, he is anti-Muslim and lastly he has developed the state.”
It is not only Lalu but Nitish Kumar too, who has reason to worry. Arun kumar Bhandari, of Mali caste which falls in the extremely backward class category, the mainstay of Kumar’s social coalition, runs a small shop in the Muslim-dominated Ranti.
“My formula is simple. I will vote for BJP for the Centre and Nitish for the state. He won’t become PM, so why waste a vote on him? But we need him in Bihar,” said Bhandari, a poll agent for the coalition last time.