Rajiv Pratap Rudy seeks a hattrick in Saran against the might of Lalu's family | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Rajiv Pratap Rudy seeks a hattrick in Saran against the might of Lalu's family

May 20, 2024 12:52 PM IST

In the past two Lok Sabha elections, it was a direct fight between Rudy and RJD candidates linked to the Lalu Yadav family.

For voters of Bihar’s Saran Lok Sabha constituency, the contest between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) patriarch Lalu Prasad Yadav’s family and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) veteran leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy is nothing new. In the past two Lok Sabha elections, it was a direct fight between Rudy and RJD candidates linked to the Lalu Yadav family. In 2014, Rudy trounced Yadav’s wife and ex-Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi by 40,000 votes, whereas in 2019, he sent Chandrika Rai, father-in-law of Yadav’s son Tej Pratap Yadav, packing, with a margin to 1.38 lakh votes.

Saran:�Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with BJP candidate from Saran Lok Sabha constituency Rajiv Pratap Rudy during an election rally, in Saran, Friday, May 17, 2024. (PTI Photo)(PTI05_17_2024_000221A)(PTI) PREMIUM
Saran:�Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with BJP candidate from Saran Lok Sabha constituency Rajiv Pratap Rudy during an election rally, in Saran, Friday, May 17, 2024. (PTI Photo)(PTI05_17_2024_000221A)(PTI)

This time, there is a lot of interest in Saran as Yadav’s daughter Rohini Acharya is making her electoral debut. Acharya is the fourth among her siblings to enter politics.

The two candidates are a study in contrast.

A medical doctor, Rohini, 44, is settled in Singapore. She did her MBBS from MGM Medical College, Jamshedpur.

Rudy, 62, with 34 years of political experience, debuted in parliamentary elections in 1996 from Chhapra, as Saran was known before the 2008 delimitation. In 2004, Rudy wrested the seat in a contest marred by large-scale electoral violence that had necessitated a repoll. He has represented Chhapra and Saran in 1996, 1999, 2014, and 2019. He won the MLA election in Bihar in 1990. A licensed pilot, he was featured in Limca Book of Records as the only parliamentarian to fly a commercial aircraft, an Airbus-320.

They campaign in contrasting styles, too.

With all the parliamentary experience, Rudy is fluent in oratorship, connects with people in Bhojpuri, the local language, and meets with people during his roadshows.

However, Acharya is not lagging behind. Campaigning mostly through roadshows, Acharya has been demonstrating that she is no run-of-the-mill homemaker.

She arrived in Saran to claim the seat for her father's party, the same seat from which Yadav had launched his political career as MP in 1977 during the Janata Party rule. During one of her roadshows, the crowds roared in response as she said, “Give me your blessings. I am the daughter of Lalu Prasad.” Women, loyal to RJD, can be seen turning up in large numbers to see her. “Laluji has done a lot for us,” said an elderly woman in Maharajganj village.

Speaking in the presence of RJD’s two biggest crowd pullers, her father and younger brother, Tejashwi Yadav, Acharya demonstrated that she could hold her own as she compared the father's track record with Rudy’s.

“My father developed a factory for manufacturing rail wheels here when he was a railway minister. The current MP was the Union minister of skill development. He (Rudy) should tell us what he did for the youth here during ten years,” she asked at a rally.

The BJP seems to have realised that its challenger in Saran is no pushover, which is why the party has run a high-profile campaign in the constituency. After Rudy filed nomination papers, he undertook a rally alongwith defence minister Rajnath Singh, in an obvious move to galvanise Rajput voters.

This was followed by rallies by star campaigners Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath.

Rudy is showcasing the work he has done for the region, such as development of a network of roads, and flyovers and providing PNG connections in Chapra, besides riding on Brand Modi. But he acknowledges the Lalu factor. “It’s not Acharya in the fray. The real opponent is Lalu, who is fighting from behind the scenes,” Rudy said.

“I was elected from Saran in the past two elections and projects worth 30,105 crore are underway in the district. Many projects have been inaugurated while many more are in the pipeline while a power substation has also been established here,” he claimed.

Expressing his confidence in another victory, Rudy said, “My name could enter record books for winning against the maximum number of family members of one family”, a statement which has set the tone for an interesting battle ahead.

Acharya has an uphill task to defeat Rudy, a veteran who has worked with both Atal Bihari and Narendra Modi as a Union minister. But the Lalu scion is confident.

Caste factor

Even as anger over joblessness exists in Saran, the elections have boiled down to caste.

Acharya is relying on RJD’s traditional Muslim-Yadav vote bank and Extremely Backward Castes. She has the daunting task of carrying forward her father’s legacy. But Saran’s political landscape is no longer the same as during the Lalu reign.

The Muslim-Yadav form 30% of the voters, upper castes 25%, Koeri-Kurmi 10%, Paswan 4.5%, Ravidas 7%, etc.

Chandrika Rai, a JD (U) member and son of former chief minister late Daroga Prasad Rai, who lost to Rudy in 2019, is campaigning actively for the BJP candidate. Rai, now a JD (U) member, had a considerable following among the Yadav community.

Out of the six assembly seats falling under Saran Lok Sabha, four were won by the RJD during the 2020 assembly elections while two went to the BJP.

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