RJD launches 'Sattu Party' outreach in Bihar, Tej Pratap impresses voters
As the BJP continues its much-hyped “Sampark for Samarthan” (contact for support) campaign to contact some one lakh people who are recognised names in their respective fields to inform voters about the Narendra Modi government’s achievements ahead of the next year’s general elections, the main Opposition RJD in Bihar headed by jailed Lalu Prasad has come out with an interesting strategy to offset the plan.
The RJD which was relegated to the Opposition after its ally, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar suddenly switched sides and returned to the BJP camp last year has launched “Sattu Party” to woo common voters in huge numbers. The party believes sattu (fried gram flour) is the common man’s food and its initiative will attract poorer voters from all caste groups.
Earlier this week, the party launched its campaign from Mahua, a key Assembly segment in Bihar’s Vaishali district, considered to be World’s First Republic and the birthplace of democracy by historians. The selection of this Assembly segment for launch of this campaign assumes significance as it is represented by Tej Pratap Yadav, elder son of the jailed RJD president.
During the day-long campaign, Tej Pratap not only drove a rickshaw carrying the original rickshaw puller and took bath at a public place but also ate “sattu” in the company of common villagers at an open public place, drawing a huge applause from common villagers. Here are some glimpses from Tej Pratap's outreach.
अपने कर्मभूमि महुआ में कार्यक्रम सत्तू पार्टी विथ तेज प्रताप यादव @महुआ के दौरान ली गई कुछ विशिष्ट तस्वीरें।— Tej Pratap Yadav (@TejYadav14) July 9, 2018
5स्टार होटलों का खाना दलित के घर ले जा कर खाना और राजनीतिक डंके बजाना बीजेपी, आरएसएस वालों का काम है हम तो किसानों के घर में पिसा हुआ सत्तू खाते हैं और खुब खुश रहते हैं।। pic.twitter.com/NU4rP8egV4
सत्तू पार्टी के बाद अपने कर्मभूमि महुआ के करहटिया बुजुर्ग पंचायत की जनता की शिकायतों को On spot निवारण करने का हर संभव प्रयास किया।— Tej Pratap Yadav (@TejYadav14) July 9, 2018
महुआवासियों ने हमें अपना बेटा बनाया था अतः एक बेटे का हर एक फर्ज निभाने का पूर्ण प्रयास करता हूँ और करता रहूंगा।। pic.twitter.com/sCT9btHSy7
सत्तू पार्टी कार्यक्रम और अपने विस क्षेत्र महुआ में दिनभर के पैदल भ्रमण के बाद थोड़ी थकावट को दूर करने के लिए करहटिया पंचायत के एक दलित के घर जा कर उनके चापाकल पर स्नान किया।— Tej Pratap Yadav (@TejYadav14) July 9, 2018
बहुत मीठी अनुभूति थी गांव के चापाकल की ठंडी पानी से नहाने का...। pic.twitter.com/QxwSZ1lh9B
The idea was to establish an emotional connect with the people and to an extent he succeeded in his mission. “At least he had sattu with us instead of eating at a hotel, and had water from a handpump instead of a Bisleri bottle,” is the refrain among many locals.
“Sattu is the poor man’s food. Farmers, rickshaw-pullers, labourers and vendors who toil hard from sunrise to sunset, survive on sattu as they can’t afford good food. Now, I have joined their daily routine,” says Tej Pratap who served as the health minister in the previous Grand Alliance government.
Although rivals reject it as a publicity stunt, the RJD believes the campaign has the ingredients to work wonders. The idea is to expand the RJD's vote-bank beyond the existing Muslim-Yadav (M-Y) combination which has kept the party in firm position since it came into being in 1997 after splitting the parent Janata Dal.
The RJD believes the entire political scene will undergo a complete change if even 10% of rural poor voters other castes shift towards the party. The M-Y combine accounts for some 30 percent of the total electorate in Bihar and if the extra votes get added with the RJD, it will indeed give a tough fight to the BJP which is now working hard to retain power.
In the last 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP-led NDA had emerged victorious on 31 seats out of Bihar’s total 40 seats. The RJD and Congress won six seats together, but that was despite a strong Modi wave sweeping across the country whereas JD-U led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was able to win only two seats. The JD-U was not a part of the NDA then.
RJD's Sattu Party also shows that the party's poll strategy is currently being chalked out by Lalu Prasad's children as the RJD president himself is seriously sick and is out on bail for treatment of multiple diseases. Prasad suffers from as many 15 diseases and the party is also not sure whether he will recover before the next LS polls. Even if he recovers, it is uncertain if he will be granted regular bail to campaign for his party.
Prasad has been sentenced to jail in as many as three separate fodder scam cases, dealing a blow to his political career, leaving him transfer powers to the hands of his children. He has appointed his suave and matured younger son Tejashwi Yadav as his main political heir.
It will be really interesting to see how far the “Sattu party” being hosted by the RJD is able to challenge Modi’s “Chai pe charcha”.