There is a very interesting fact about Madhepura— “Rome Pope ka, Madhepura Gope ka (What Rome is to Pope, Madhepura is to Gope or Yadavs)”. It’s not surprising then that this key north Bihar constituency has elected only Yadavs as its leader in the Lok Sabha since Independence.
Keeping in view the considerable presence of the Yadav voters there, just every party has given tickets to the leaders from this community, and that has made the battle tough for the RJD which currently represents this seat.
Yet another trouble for the RJD is that the party chief Lalu Prasad is not around to campaign for his party candidate this time as he has been in jail for the past 17 months in connection with the fodder scam and in a huge setback to the party, the Supreme Court has rejected his bail request.
Madhepura was one of the four seats which the RJD had won last time even at the height of Narendra Modi wave. In the last 2014 polls, the RJD had placed its bet on Pappu Yadav who ultimately defeated JD-U’s Sharad Yadav by over 56,000 votes despite the contest turning triangular. This time too, the contest remains triangular although the entire political scene has undergone a complete change. Rival Sharad Yadav has now been fielded as RJD-led Grand Alliance candidate and he is facing challenge from none other than Pappu Yadav who was elected on the RJD ticket last time.
This time Pappu is contesting on the election symbol of his own party, the Jan Adhikar Party (JAP), a political outfit which he floated soon after revolting against the RJD leadership which led to his expulsion from the parent party. Initially, he tried hard to get ticket either from the RJD or even the Congress but the former strongly objected to his move, forcing the grand old party to maintain distance from Pappu.
This prompted him to jump in the fray as his party candidate turning the whole contest as triangular as the NDA has also fielded its candidate Dinesh Chandra Yadav from this seat. What is significant, all these three candidates are from the Yadav community.
The RJD candidate banks on the support of Yadav and Muslim voters apart from the dalit community whereas Pappu too expects to get his fellow caste men votes, plus he has personal rapport with the local villagers since he is available for the voters most of the time.
The NDA candidate, on the hand, banks on the support of Upper caste, multiple smaller castes’ voters and popularity of Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar. It’s obviously a tough time for the voters to choose one among them trio. As per a rough estimate, Madhepura has 3.50 lakh Yadav voters, 2 lakh Muslim voters and some 4.50 lakh various caste voters, part from smaller populations of upper castes.
A plus point for Sharad is that he is very well aware of this constituency since he has represented it quite four times in the past in 1991, 1996, 1999 and 2009 while Pappu has represented this seat twice in 2004 and 2014.
Another factor which seems to be working in favour of the RJD candidate is absence of Prasad who is now lodged in jail and the RJD trying to give it an emotional touch. As such, the entry of Pappu into Madheoura poll contest has caused double problem for the Grand Alliance.
Reports said the RJD is not supporting the Congress candidate Ranjita Ranjan in neighbouring Supaul seat since her husband Pappu is contesting against the RJD candidate in Madhepura despite the advice to withdraw from the contest. Pappu’s political ambition is, thus, disturbing two seats of the Grand Alliance Madhepura and Supaul, both its sitting seats represented by husband and wife.