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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Rivalry of Patna’s two iconic schools spills on to poll arena in Saran seat

The two main candidates in Saran Lok Sabha seat - BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy and RJD’s Chandrika Rai- are alumnus of Patna’s St. Michael and St. Xavier schools.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 01, 2019 16:08 IST
Anil Kumar
Anil Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
lok sabha elections 2019,patna,rajiv pratap rudy
Rajiv Pratap Rudy is the BJP candidate from Saran Lok Sabha constituency. (HT File )

The enduring rivalry between two iconic Patna schools, essentially in field of academics and sports, has now spilled onto the political arena, with two prominent members of their alumni locking horns in the Saran Lok Sabha constituency that goes to poll on May 6.

For the first time, the intense St Xavier’s -St Michael’s competition will be ‘settled’ on an electoral pitch, set some 70 km northwest of Patna, with St Michael’s alumnus Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the sitting BJP MP, facing Chandrika Rai of Xavier’s, fielded by the RJD for the seat once held by its chief Lalu Prasad.

Both Rudy and Rai, who are engaged in a straight BJP-RJD tussle, have impressive academic credentials, though some voters openly say the fight is going to be a redux of ‘mandal-kamandal’ politics.

Chandrika is a gold medallist in History (honours) and a postgraduate from Patna University, while Rudy graduated in law from Punjab University and is a postgraduate in economics from Magadh University. Rudy has also been a visiting faculty to the National Police Academy for the last 20 years.

The poll scene has become interesting with the entry of Rai, RJD MLA from Parsa, who has replaced former chief minister Rabri Devi this time following her defeat at the hands of Rudy in 2014 LS polls.

Being the son of former chief minister Daroga Prasad Rai, politics came naturally for the six-time MLA and former minister Chandrika Rai. But for Rudy, his early brush with student politics at intermediate level set the platform for his political career.

Also Read  | Lok Sabha elections 2019: Saran constituency in Bihar

Interestingly, both of them became legislators at quite a young age — Rai at 27 in 1985 and Rudy at 28 in 1990.

Incidentally, both were denied tickets in the successive assembly election by their respective parties, Congress and Janata Dal, after completing their first stint as MLAs from Parsa and Taraiya assembly segments.

But it was not the end of the road for them. In 1990, Chandrika contested as an Independent and won before gravitating towards Lalu Prasad’s brand of politics. Rudy went on to become an MP in 1996 and later a union minister in Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s and Narendra Modi’s governments.

And yet again, both of them saw their ministerial stints cut short in recent times. While Rudy, a five-term MP, including Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha stints, had to step down as minister during the recent Union cabinet reshuffle, Chandrika had to lose his ministerial berth in Bihar in 2017 following Nitish Kumar’s decision to walk out of the Grand Alliance and rejoin the BJP.

Though pitted against each other, Rudy displays respect for his senior.

“He is a senior, I have great and an unconditional respect for him. He has a legacy of a family, while I have groomed myself in politics. The campaign is on. It is Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi all the way, let’s see,” he said, refusing to be drawn into any attack on his rival, who is also the school mate of his elder brother Sudhir Pratap Singh, former DG, NSG.

But Chandrika has no time for niceties. His supporters want him to attack the Nitish Kumar-Narendra Modi’s double engine government on a host of issues, including lack of jobs, farm distress and the most saleable proposition — the perceived or real threat to reservation in the eyes of OBCs, EBCs, Dalits and minorities.

“The time for ‘pakora’ (apparently hinting at Narendra Modi and unemployment) and ‘bhagora’ (Nitish Kumar for deserting GA) is over. Voters are more concerned about jobs, efforts to undo quotas as merit system is being compromised openly and easy accessibility to their representatives ,” says Chandrika.

For the alumni of the two institutions, it is a no-brainer. “Chandrika is suave, modest, most learned among the present lot of politicians. His humility, despite his family background, is exceptional. He is going to romp home,” says Arindam Guha, a 1973-batch ex-xaverian and a close friend.

But ex-Michaelite Rohit Singh, Rudy’s junior from the school, says, “Being part of Lalu’s extended family will not be the criteria for win in Saran, where present day voters go by the work done by their elected representatives. On this count, sitting MP is miles ahead. He has been able to address the issues, like accessibility, once for all in

2014 and stamped it by spending most of his time in his constituency. It will be an easy sail.”

Rohit added that BJP president Amit Shah had also hinted a bigger role for Rudy in the next Modi government while appealing voters to return the MP at a rally in Saran on Sunday.

Lok Sabha Election 2019: All you need to know about Bihar

First Published: May 01, 2019 16:08 IST

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