Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav is facing a tough fight from controversial former MP Pappu Yadav of the RJD in this Bihar parliamentary constituency. Sharad Yadav, 66, a firebrand socialist, is seeking re-election with full support of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in this Yadav dominated constituency.
Though Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad is not contesting polls after he was convicted in multi-crore fodder scam, he has fielded Pappu, hoping that when the constituency votes April 30 he will emerge the undisputed leader of the Yadavs - his caste men - in the caste ridden Bihar politics. Last year, citing lack of evidence, the Patna High Court acquitted Pappu Yadav, 53, in a case related to the killing of Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Ajit Sarkar in May 1998. Pappu remained in jail for 12 years. Pappu Yadav won the Lok Sabha polls from Purnia thrice - in 1991, 1996 and 1999 - and once from Madhepura (2004).
Sharad Yadav, an engineer known for his long association with socialist politics in the country, is now facing an uphill task in the parliamentary poll. Both Yadavs are relying on caste factor as well as reportedly on money and muscle power to settle scores. Madhepura's significance also lies in the fact that the winner will send across a strong political message - either that the Yadavs support the social justice that Lalu Prasad champions and propagates, or the `development' plank which Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar are promoting.
The winner will be one who carries the flag of the Mandal movement. Bindeshwari Prasad Mandal, who also belonged to the Madhepura region, headed a panel that had recommended reservations in government jobs for what are known as other backward classes. The report was accepted by the then prime minister V.P. Singh in 1990. Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar are not taking any chances this time around unlike in 2009 when Sharad was comfortably placed with the then ally BJP.
Now the BJP is contesting polls alone and has fielded Vijay Singh, husband of Renu Kushwaha, who resigned from Nitish cabinet last month and was suspended from the JD-U last week for campaigning against party candidate Sharad Yadav. Singh is a non-Yadav candidate. Nitish Kumar has personally supervised the election campaign and has addressed at least half a dozen election meetings in the last few days.
Interestingly, it was Lalu Prasad who brought Sharad Yadav to Madhepura in 1991 polls. This was after Sharad Yadav lost from Badaun in Uttar Pradesh to the BJP's Swami Chinmayanand in the general elections that year. He then won from Madhepura with support from Lalu Prasad. In 1996, he again won from the seat, but lost in 1998. But in 1999, Sharad Yadav defeated Lalu Prasad, and that surprised everyone. Lalu defeated him in 2004.
In 1974, Sharad Yadav won from Jabalpur Lok Sabha constituency in Madhya Pradesh in a by-election.