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Keeping the political hearth burning

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 - 7:00am IST | Place: Saran | Agency: dna

Once an accidental chief minister, she now owns assets worth Rs6.5 crore, a double barrel gun, and last but not the least, 45 cows worth Rs20 lakh. She left the cozy hearth and took up challenges of the political turf, whenever the going got tough for her husband, even as she remained a titular head all through. She is at it yet again. RJD supremo Lalu Prasad's wife Rabri Devi is pulling up her socks for her maiden fight for the Lok Sabha at a time when a pall of uncertainty shrouds Lalu's politcial career in the wake of his conviction in the multi-crore fodder scam.

It being paramount for some one from Lalu's family to become a member of parliament, as only that would ensure the family's command on the party, Rabri Devi is contesting from the Saran parliamentary constituency in Bihar. Saran has been the traditional Lalu stronghold seat. Like in 1997, when he picked up Rabri Devi, and anointed her as the chief minister overnight, Lalu is yet again pinning hopes on her. He did not appoint any one else for the prestigious Saran seat. Another coveted constituency, the Yadav dominated Patliputra, has gone to her daughter Misa Bharti. Misa's fate now lies sealed at the ballot boxes.

Rabri Devi will be contesting against BJP's Rajiv Pratap Rudy. Rudy lost to Lalu from the seat in 2009 Lok Sabha elections by a margin of about 52,000 votes.

The key message that Rabri is taking to the voters is that Lalu has been a victim of politcal controversy. According to sources, like a typical titular head she simply reiterates the Lalu rhetoric that anti-secular forces need to be trampled. A senior RJD leader told dna on condition of anonymity, "In all the interactions, Rabri Devi does not go beyond the rhetoric of Lalu Prasad. But yes, her style and eloquence have got reformed. It is not the timid, low-on-confidence Rabri Devi of 1997. It is rather a more aggressive Rabri, who knows how to assert herself." That remains to be seen.

Even though Rabri Devi became chief minister of Bihar thrice, her electoral track record is not impressive. In 2010 assembly elections, she contested from two constituencies, Raghopur and Sonepur, but lost the elections. Her three stints as the chief minister were succeded by president rule twice in 1999 and 2005 and by JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar in 2000. Saran voters will decide her fate on May 7.

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