Misa Bharti, Lalu Prasad Yadav's daughter, denies that she was forcibly thrust into politics. Kavita Chowdhury reports
Misa Bharti, better known as “Lalu ki beti” or Lalu Prasad’s daughter and the Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate from the Pataliputra constituency, looks forward to the two hours in the morning she gets to spend with her children before setting out on a gruelling campaign trail at 10 am daily.
With the youngest of her two daughters busy playing on the lawns of her mother Rabri Devi’s official residence at Circular Road, Patna, Misa meets party workers and old-timers. The 38-year-old doctor gives a patient hearing to the octogenarian Ram Prayag Prasad, a former college principal from Chhapra, who insists on reading out the verses he had penned in praise of the Lalu clan.
Misa dismisses the allegation that she was thrust into electoral politics and says when she misses her children she uses Facetime, an application on her iPhone, to talk to them. Her elder daughter studies in Class 7 in Delhi.
While RJD workers promise her of a thumping victory to teach the “gaddar” (back-stabber) Ram Kirpal Yadav a lesson, Misa still addresses her main political rival as “chacha”. Ram Kirpal, a long-time Lalu loyalist, defected to the BJP after he was denied a ticket by the RJD.
Misa’s constituency is witnessing a triangular fight with three Yadavs in the fray: The JD-U candidate is sitting MP Prof Ranjan Prasad Yadav.
“Humiliation” meted out to Misa by Ram Kirpal -- she was made to wait in Ram Kripal’s Delhi residence, where she had gone to request him not to leave the party, for five hours -- has angered many in the Yadav community. The constituency has over 3 lakh Yadav voters.
Misa says Ram Kirpal is ‘still a RJD Rajya Sabha member and used to be the second most important man in the party’. Her first election has become more of a “prestige issue” for Lalu. While Lalu is single-handedly running the RJD show in the entire state, he is also micro-managing Misa’s campaign. He can’t take chances, as, in 2009, he had lost the elections from here.
Misa is being projected by the RJD as “Pataliputra ki bahu”, as her husband Shailesh Kumar, an IT engineer, belongs to this place. She rejects the notion that the RJD has a lot at stake, with Lalu not contesting the elections, thanks to his conviction in the fodder scam case.
“The masses are with us. Whatever happened in the past (the RJD bagged only three seats in 2009) is past; now it’s Nitish Kumar who is fighting for his survival,” says Misa.
Misa concedes that she represents the “next generation” of the RJD. She dismissed the allegation that the RJD chief was promoting dynastic politics. “I am a soldier of the RJD parivaar (family).”
Being a young person, Misa says, she could better connect with the youth and is leveraging social media to reach out to them. The RJD has even hired IIT professionals to help and advise her on her campaign.
But clearly, Misa’s campaign is being steered by her family. Her husband is managing her Facebook page and Twitter account and keeps track of her campaign photos uploaded by village youth from their mobile phones.
Misa arouses curiosity wherever she goes, with crowds gather to catch a glimpse of her. Women in rural areas of the constituency even drag her into their homes.
Misa’s political inexperience is no factor here, thanks to her legacy. With elections being fought on caste lines, the RJD is banking on the time tested Muslim-Yadav combine to ensure Misa’s victory. The Muslims account for over 1 lakh votes here. It’s a close call, as upper castes -- Rajputs and Bhumihars -- are inclined towards Ram Kripal of the BJP.
More than Misa, it is Lalu who wants the party to win this seat at any cost, not only to score against his former loyalist but also to secure his political future through his family.
Image: Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi at their daughter Misa's wedding