Bihar’s big fight plays out in Saran in fifth phase of polling
BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy was fighting to stave off allegations of having distanced himself from voters ahead of the elections but the Modi factor and the party’s nationalism poll plank may help him retain his seat.Updated: May 06, 2019, 20:04 IST
One person was arrested on Monday for tampering an EVM while clashes between supporters of two political groups erupted outside another polling booth in Saran where BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy is pitted against his challenger from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Chandrika Rai in the big fight during the fifth phase Lok Sabha polls in Bihar.
One Sudarshan Hazra was arrested at booth number 131 under Sonepur assembly segment of Saran for trying to tamper with the ballot unit after he broke the EVM in a fit of rage. Sources said Hazra was annoyed with his mother for not voting for a particular candidate.
In another incident, a few vehicles were damaged as two groups clashed outside a polling booth under Dariapur police station of Parsa assembly constituency.
“One miscreant was arrested for damaging an EVM. In another incident, a minor scuffle took place between two groups near booth number 259 and 260. The situation was immediately brought under control and polling not disturbed. Polling has been otherwise peaceful,” Saran district magistrate Subrat Kumar Sen said about the two incidents.
Saran was once considered a pocket borough of RJD chief Lalu Prasad who is now in jail in Ranchi in the multi-crore rupee fodder scam case. The Supreme Court had on April 10 turned down Prasad’s bail plea ahead of Lok Sabha polls, keeping him away from campaigning in a constituency he had won four times — 1977, 1989, 2004 (then called Chapra Lok Sabha constituency) and in 2009 (renamed Saran, after delimitation of constituencies in 2008).
With the RJD chief away, the party has had to fight internal dissension. The party is struggling to keep its house in order after Prasad’s elder son Tej Pratap Yadav, who married Rai’s daughter Aishwarya Rai, revolted against his father-in-law. Tej was campaigning against Rai after filing a divorce petition in November 2018, even as the latter claims he was part of Prasad’s family. This has not gone down well with voters in Saran, where RJD held sway in four — Marhaura, Garkha, Parsa and Sonepur — of the six assembly constituencies. The BJP had won Chapra and Amnour seats during the last assembly elections in 2015.
In the run up to the elections, Rudy was fighting to stave off allegations of having distanced himself from voters. The common refrain of voters was that it was difficult to approach Rudy because he was seldom available in the constituency.
But Rudy can still retain his seat with the Modi factor and BJP’s nationalism poll plank coming into play. More than getting votes for self, Rudy could garner votes on account of Modi. Rudy knows it all too well when he says, “Modi’s good work will fetch me votes.”
He took a veiled swipe at Rai when, after exercising his franchise, he said, “There are people who believe Saran is the seat of a particular family… but jagirdari (feudal system) has long ended.”
Rudy is a five-time MP with stints in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. He won the Chapra Lok Sabha seat in 1996 and 1999 before winning the Saran seat in 2014, defeating Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi by 40,948 votes.
There are 16,61,922 registered voters in Saran of which 8.91 lakh are males and 7.70 lakh females.
Rudy was the minister of skill development and entrepreneurship in the Modi government but was dropped from the cabinet in 2017 in a major reshuffle. After almost a year later in political wilderness, he was appointed as the national spokesperson of the BJP in December 2018.