Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mail Today : Patna Durbar : Giridhar Jha

Lalu’s fate has everyone on edge
All eyes are riveted on the Lok Sabha election results in Bihar. Poll results are always interesting but this time, everybody seems to be waiting for them with bated breath.
The fight between the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal- Lok Janshakti Party combine has not only the laymen but also inveterate psephologists biting their nails.
The results this year are likely to set aside several stereotypes about the polls and rewrite the future of many stalwarts in the state.
Among other things, they will determine whether development has finally become a stronger factor than caste in a state that has seen politicians being lionised more because of their surnames than their commitment and vision.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar has spearheaded the NDA campaign solely on the strength of his 42- month- old government’s performance.
He is quite upbeat over the prospects of his alliance in the polls. He is not alone in his belief, though. Already, the Congress and the Left have started wooing him, which is clearly a pointer to the fact that even his opponents presume that Nitish is on a victory march.
But does that mean the rout of formidable Lalu Prasad on his home turf? The RJD supremo had forged a pre- poll alliance with LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan and dissociated himself from the Congress. His pre- poll strategy was to win as many seats as possible in Bihar to have a larger role in the postresults scenario at the national level.
Lalu says if development were an issue, he would have got all the votes in Saran. He has a point. As the Railway Minister, he brought projects worth crores to his constituency.
But did it convert into votes? Reports have it that he is locked in a very tough fight in Saran.
In fact, Lalu’s fate in Saran and Patliputra — the two constituencies he contested from — is the most talkedabout issue in Bihar now.
“ Will he meet his Waterloo this time?” is being asked everywhere.
The curiosity of the people is understandable. Lalu, after all, played a key role in the UPA government, thanks to the astounding success story of the Railways. The defeat of his alliance at this juncture will certainly deal a blow to his ambitions of having a bigger role in national politics.
The Bihar results will also determine whether Nitish can pull off a stunning victory to emerge as a kingmaker, or for that matter, the king himself. It is widely expected that Nitish will sweep the polls to put paid to Lalu’s hopes.
But Lalu has been telling everybody to wait for the counting day — May 16 — before jumping to any conclusions.

This star was shining brighter
THE Patna Sahib constituency may have been in the news for the electoral fight between film stars Shatrughan Sinha and Shekhar Suman but there was another candidate in the fray who was different from the run- of- themill politicians. Dr Diwakar Tejaswi, a nominee of the Bharat Uday Mission organisation, is a doctor who has earned fame for treating HIV positive patients in the state.
Dr Tejaswi was not intimidated by his star adversaries, contesting on the ticket of mainstream parties. He conducted his door- to- door campaign in all parts of the constituency, raising issues like health and hygiene, water and power shortage and traffic problems. The good doctor also offered solutions to the voters.
The presence of a gold medallist doctor like him in the fray was a refreshing change for the voters of Bihar, otherwise accustomed to seeing contestants with dubious antecedents.