By Ajay Kumar
While the bypolls for two seats of Bihar is turning out to be a close fight between the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the former appears to be the one that is likely to face the bigger test.
The Congress, which is a part of the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar, has challenged the RJD by launching its candidates from both Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan Assembly constituencies. After that some RJD leaders left the party. As a result, it is turning out to be a tough affair for the RJD to keep intact its Muslim-Yadav (MY) vote-base.
Salim Parvez, a senior leader of the RJD and very close associate of the late Mohammad Shahabuddin, the former MP from Siwan, resigned from the party on Friday. Word is that he will join the JD-U.
He alleged that Tejashwi Yadav’s manner of running the party was not acceptable and he had chosen to quit the party.
“The approach of Tejashwi Yadav towards late Mohammad Shahabuddin was extremely unfortunate. He was behind the formation of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi governments in 1995 and 2000. When Shahabuddin was ill and he died in Delhi, Tejashwi Yadav, who was just 5 km away from the place, did not come to pay last respects to him,” Parvez said.
“Shahabuddin was the one who had played a crucial role in keeping the M-Y equation intact in favour of the RJD in Bihar, but Tejashwi Yadav did not give respect to his efforts. It was unfortunate and heartbreaking for me and many other Muslim leaders as Tejashwi Yadav did not even issue a statement on Shahabuddin’s death in Delhi,” Parvez said.
Later, Tejashwi and other senior leaders of the RJD met the family of Shahabuddin in a bid to do some damage control.
“RJD’s M-Y politics suited them best in the past given their politics of casteism and appeasement of Muslims. This politics was used to defend the family fiefdom of Lalu Prasad. But this politics is exposed now. The NDA government in Bihar and at the Centre has done a lot for the welfare of common masses, including minorities and backwards. The criminal faces of Muslims, which supported the RJD to create a mass psyche, are no longer alive. Also, the Congress has come on a confrontation note with RJD. All these factors will destroy the M-Y politics of RJD in the coming days,” Nikhil Anand, chief spokesperson of BJP’s Bihar unit and national general secretary of party’s OBC wing told IANS.
Madan Mohan Jha, state president of the Congress, told IANS: “Claiming the old caste formula is no longer realistic on the ground in Bihar. Those who are claiming that they will take the vote of these two communities are fooling the people. A large number of people of these two communities will vote for the Congress party in the upcoming by-election and it will be proved on the day of result on November 2.”
Neeraj Kumar, JD(U) MLC said: “By-elections in Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan will shatter RJD’s dream. The party hopes to win these two seats on the basis of the M-Y equation.”
Mritunjay Tiwari, national spokesperson of RJD said: “The party has family relations with the family of Shahabuddin. He had also claimed in his last statement that Lalu Prasad was his leader. Tejashwi Yadav went several times to meet his son Osama Shahab and his mother Heena Shahab. Leaders like Parvez and opposition parties are creating confusion among voters. It has no base on the ground. The M-Y equation is intact with RJD.”
The M-Y equation of RJD was also challenged during the 2020 Assembly election after the appearance of Assaduddin Owaisi. His party, AIMIM, has dealt a severe blow to RJD in Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region.
AIMIM had put up a good performance in Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria and Katihar districts where Muslims have more than 60 per cent of the votes. Apart from victories in Kishanganj and Purnea, the party had caused a split in the votes in other Muslim-dominant constituencies.
RJD is facing other challenges — like the tough stand of the Congress party and the rebellion by Tej Pratap Yadav who has already said he will support other candidates in the bypolls. Tej Pratap supported an independent candidate — who later joined the RJD.
Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, the president of Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) has pledged support to the Congress party in the bypoll. The Congress leaders have claimed that Pappu Yadav is the second biggest Yadav leader in Bihar after Lalu Prasad.
Pappu Yadav was recently released from jail after five months and it is believed that he would get sympathy votes for the Congress party.
Pappu Yadav was the one who had wholeheartedly helped patients during the second wave of coronavirus this year.
The current political scenario of Bihar suits JD-U as it is getting support from all the alliance partners, including BJP.