Kishenganj (Bihar), April 28: Minarets, khanqahs and fluttering flags dot the district headquarters of Kishenganj Lok Sabha seat.
Here, Lalu Prasad became an overnight hero after arresting BJP prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani on October 23, 1990, and the only Bihar seat with a majority of Muslims became RJDs pocket borough. Apart from 1999 when BJPs Shah Nawaz was victorious here, RJD has remained a favourite in Kishenganj. However, winds of change are blowing here. The so-called messiah in his Mecca probably having sensed the changing mood, chose Kishenganj to deliver his roller speech on BJPs new poster boy Varun Gandhi inviting an EC notice.
History does not always repeat itself. We are no longer supporting RJD and we do not approve of Lalu Prasads rhetoric on Varun Gandhi, despite the fact that the latter is acting like a spoilt child, said Baba Ibrahim, a muezzin in Kishenganj.
Ibrahim, who believes that Islam does not approve of politics mixed with religion, said: Lalu Prasad has been using Muslims as a vote bank, rather than a community that needs help. Before, we had no option but to vote for his party. With the Congress in the fray, we have got our party back.
In fact, Ibrahim is not alone in favouring the Congress.
Seventy per cent of the voters that The Telegraph spoke to in the sprawling constituency expressed their exuberance over Congress fielding its candidate (Asrarul Haque) for the first time in 18 years.
The RJD boss, his aides believe, did not bargain for this when he broke out of Congress. Lalu Prasads move has boomeranged with the Kishenganj Muslims gearing up to vote the Congress back to power, said a supporter.
The hinterlands of Thakurganj, Bhadurganj, Kocha Dhaman, Amaur and Baisi Assembly segments of Kishenganj barely show any change despite development schemes introduced by the Lalu-Rabri regime.
The people here talk of Nitish Kumar more fondly for providing free bicycles to school-going girls and salary to madarssa and maqtab teachers.
We accept that he (Nitishs) brought some changes. But, we will prefer Congress over a JD(U) nominee, said Mohammad Jalal at Baisi.
Union minister and RJD nominee Taslimuddin who had comfortably won in 2004, perhaps, is facing the biggest challenge now. He is locked in a triangular battle with Congress nominee and JD(U)s Syd Asraf Mehmood. But, like in sports, in politics, too, the element of surprise rules. BJPs Shah Nawaz had surprised voters by winning the seat in 1999. For now, JD(U) nominee Asraf Ali and others may bank on this factor.