| RJD chief Lalu Prasad addresses a rally in Forbesganj in Araria last year and (right) chief minister Nitish Kumar in Bagaha in January 2010. Telegraph pictures |
Patna, Sept. 9: September has turned out to be a popular month to hit the streets for yatras among political stalwarts and parties.
As arch-rivals Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad chose September 19 to hit the hinterlands, other parties too would follow suit this month.
While Nitish will start his Adhikar Yatra from Bettiah — the West Champaran district headquarters — on September 19, Lalu would resume his Parivartan Yatra from Begusarai on the same day. The RJD boss is supposed to “expose” the failures of the Nitish government to bring in a “change” in the state. Nitish in his yatra would solicit support for the JD(U)’s Adhikar rally that would be organised here on November 5 to press for the state’s demand for a special category status.
The Congress will also embark on the journey to the hinterlands in the third week of September with Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Mehboob Ali Quaiser accompanied by a Union minister, probably Jyotiraditya Scindia. The party would apprise people about the welfare schemes the Centre had introduced for their well-being.
The Bihar Navnirman Manch — a forum led by rebel JD(U) MP Upendra Kushwaha — too is scheduled to carry out Jan Sampark Abhiyan (contact with people campaign) from September 23, to take his battle against mentor-turned-rival Nitish, to the masses.
BJP leader Uma Bharti’s Ganga Yatra — a campaign to keep the holy river clean — is about to hit Bhagalpur in the last week of the month. The senior state party leaders would accompany the BJP leader in her sojourn to Buxar, Patna, Munger and other towns and cities situated on the banks of the Ganga.
The common voters are, however, unable to comprehend why almost all the mainstream parties have suddenly chosen this month to carry out their political campaigns almost two years in advance of the Lok Sabha polls and three years ahead of the Assembly elections, due in 2015.
A close inquiry into the yatras revealed that almost all the major opposition parties wish to counter Nitish, who besides carrying out the government’s work, has been quite steadfast in undertaking political journeys almost regularly to stay in touch with the masses. In fact, taking a break from the Seva Yatra that he started in November 2011, Nitish is going to undertake the Adhikar Yatra now.
Nitish turned his Dhanyawad Yatra, Vishwash Yatra, Vikas Yatra, Pravas Yatra, Janadesh Yatra and Seva Yatra into effective instruments to increase his credential with the masses and at the same time keep his main rival, Lalu Prasad, and other opponents at bay. The Adhikar Yatra would be his first purely political journey to build up public opinion against the Centre’s “reluctance” to accord special category status to Bihar.
Political observers believe that through his Adhikar Yatra, which will involve the party apparatus rather than the official machinery, Nitish would measure his political strength in the November 4 rally that will be the culmination of the Adhikar Yatra, amid talks of his plan to part ways with the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
“Our boss (Lalu Prasad) virtually stayed in hibernation throughout the first year of Nitish’s second term. He was busy with the wedding of his daughters and other family chores, which Nitish exploited to the hilt by visiting the hinterlands through his successive yatras,” said a senior RJD leader.
He added: “Lalu has now awakened to the reality on how Nitish has replaced him as the top leader of the masses in the state. Lalu has decided to take on Nitish head-on with the masses now.”
The parties might have their respective logic for the yatras but the fact remains that they are getting into the election mode two years in advance of the polls.
“The Congress which was reduced to a three-MLA party, is woefully lacking in its cadres and structure in the hinterlands. We strongly feel that Nitish has pocketed the credit of a plethora of central schemes like MGNREGA, Sarva Shiksha Abihiyan, opening of the Indian Institute of Technology, Nalanda University, Rajiv Gandhi rural electrification scheme and National Rural Health Mission. We would enlighten people on how the Centre has played a strong role in the state’s turnaround,” said a senior Congress leader.