The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has decided to kickstart its pre-poll campaign with a Maha Padyatra from February 17 to highlight the ‘failures’ of the state government as also the UPA government’s achievements in flooding the state with central funds. Altogether, the different touring units will wend their way through 16 routes in the state.
Unlike Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the railway minister and RJD chief would not be accompanying the Yatra all the way, but he might drop in at some district headquarters to address public meetings.
The Padyatra, scheduled from February 17, will coincide with the last lap of the second phase of the Chief Minister’s Vikas Yatra, which will conclude on February 21. The RJD’s Mahayatra schedule, finalized on Thursday, would see the party workers covering 7000 km to touch almost all the panchayats in the 38 districts of the state before concluding at the historic Gandhi Maidan in Patna on March 1. The party expects to organize 7000 meetings during the tour.
The first group will start from Valmikinagar and will be led by RJD MP from Bettiah, Raghunath Jha. The other groups would start their tours from the district headquarters, including Gopalganj, Samastipur, Bhagalpur, Purnea, Nalanda and Gaya. “The aim of the Yatra is to expose the state government’s failure to utilise the central funds, pumped in by the centre during the last four years of the UPA government. We also want to mobilise the people against the misgovernance in the state,” said principal general secretary Ram Kripal Yadav.
As is evident from the timing of the yatra, it seeks to be a corollary to the NDA’s Vikas Yatra which has literally set the tone of election campaigning in the state for the coming Lok Sabha polls.
The RJD chief also aims to galvanise the party’s rank and file through the Mahayatra, especially the district units, which have been dormant since the party came into opposition in 2005. Even the sitting MPs have been asked to gear up for the Mahayatra by organising the tours in their respective constituencies. “All MPs and former MPs, MLAs and former MLAs would be supervising the Yatra in their districts,” said a senior leader of the party.
The other objective of Lalu is to gauge the public mood before the polls so that he can carry out changes in ticket allotments to prospective candidates.