Yadavs join hands to fight in unison

The Y factor - the Yadavs - is set to play a crucial role this Assembly election.

By Amit Bhelari in Patna
  • Published 29.06.15
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(From left) Former MP Surendra Yadav, Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav, former MP Ranjan Prasad Yadav and former Union minister Devendra Yadav in Patna on Sunday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey

Patna, June 28: The Y factor - the Yadavs - is set to play a crucial role this Assembly election.

The Yadavs, a core support base of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, form the single largest segment in the OBC group. Their population varies from 12 to 15 per cent of the electorate. Now, the BJP is making concerted efforts to make inroads into this segment.

The process started with the Hunkar Rally of 2013 when Narendra Modi declared in Patna that he had a natural claim over the Yadav votes as he came from the land of Dwarika, the home of Lord Krishna. It has accelerated now with a group of Yadav leaders - all former associates of the RJD chief - joining hands and spitting venom against Lalu for "betraying the Yadavs".

Among the leaders are former MP Ranjan Prasad Yadav, a former friend, philosopher and guide of Lalu. This section of leaders has for now just stopped short of declaring they would join the BJP ahead of the Assembly elections. But at the same time they have started formulating a strategy against Lalu. As part of it, they organised a meeting under the banner of Mandal Vichar Manch at Ranjan's residence on Sunday.

Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav, former Union minister Devendra Yadav and former MP Surendra Yadav were among the prominent leaders present at the meeting. All of them unanimously passed the resolution to campaign against candidates of the RJD-JDU alliance.

Ranjan, who recently resigned from the JDU, said: "Lalu has betrayed the Yadav community by going with Nitish who has cheated both the Yadav and Muslim community. We have decided to visit all 534 blocks and 8,500 panchayats to campaign against their candidates. Pappu is the future of Bihar now, Lalu cannot be the messiah of the Yadav caste." Lalu has been apprehensive for some time about losing his Yadav vote base. That was one of the main reasons he resisted Nitish's projection as the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance for the Assembly elections. Lalu knows his core voters are not very enthusiastic about Nitish, as he is seen as the man responsible for the Yadavs losing their political dominance in the state.

Later, after being arm-twisted into accepting Nitish as the chief ministerial face, Lalu has put up a brave front by declaring that Yadavs were a political caste and would vote where he tells them to. But at the same time the RJD chief is at work, stemming doubts among his supporters that their influence was about to diminish.

For past few weeks, Lalu has been even conducting meetings with office-bearers and party workers from the different divisions at the RJD office in Patna. He has been urging the people not to leave the RJD. In every meetings, sources said, Lalu has stressed that he was the only messiah of the Yadav community.

The coming together of the four Yadav leaders on one platform would surely dent the votebank of Lalu, in the process benefiting the BJP because the resolution also states the leaders would work in favour of candidates of the Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular (led by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi) and Jan Adhikar Party (formed by Pappu). Asked about joining the BJP, Ranjan and the three other leaders refused to answer and said their only mission was to defeat the candidates of Lalu and Nitish.

The four Yadav leaders, who have joined hands, may be political featherweights compared to Lalu but that is no reason for the heavyweights to rest easy.

"But they have pockets of influence. Pappu has his influence in the Seemanchal area and Devendra Prasad Yadav has his followers in the Jhanjharpur and Madhubani area," said a BJP leader, stressing that when Ram Kripal Yadav left the RJD before the Lok Sabha polls, it eroded the Yadav base in Patna. A section of Yadav voters opted for him over Misa Bharati in Pataliputra Lok Sabha seat. The fact that Lalu or his family members are no longer in the contest for the top seat in Bihar makes the Yadav votes more vulnerable.