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Exclusive | India General Elections 2024: A ‘fakir’ from ‘jhopdi’ takes on Misa Bharti

Updated on: 27 May,2024 06:55 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Diwakar Sharma |

Downplaying his ancestral home, which is among assets worth Rs 4.5 crore, Ram Kripal Yadav casts himself as the underdog against Lalu’s daughter

Exclusive | India General Elections 2024: A ‘fakir’ from ‘jhopdi’ takes on Misa Bharti

The two-time MP’s ancestral home, which he refers to as a jhopdi; (right) Ram Kripal Yadav. Pics/Diwakar Sharma

Voters anticipate a fierce electoral contest between the BJP and RJD in the Pataliputra Lok Sabha constituency. The incumbent MP since 2014 Ram Kripal Yadav, son of a milkman and formerly a trusted aide of RJD Supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, exudes confidence in decisively defeating his arch-rival Misa Bharti, who is contesting the general polls on ‘lantern’ electoral symbol.

The sitting MP reaffirms his belief that the saffron party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will secure a sweeping mandate, potentially surpassing 400 seats out of the 545 constituencies across India.

BJP MP and Pataliputra candidate Ram Kripal Yadav with party workers in Patna on Sunday. Pics/Diwakar Sharma

Throughout his four-decade-long political journey, Ram Kripal Yadav asserts that he maintains regular interactions with his party workers, a practice he contrasts with the purported aloofness of Misa Bharti, the eldest child of RJD supremo.

He emphasises his role as a ‘sevak’ [servant] while characterising his opponent as a ‘shaashak’ [ruler], who resides in opulence. Ram Kripal Yadav also gestures towards his ancestral house, nestled in a quaint lane of Patna’s Goriya Toli, highlighting its significance and declaring his ownership of properties valued at only Rs 4.50 crore.

BJP MP and Pataliputra candidate Ram Kripal Yadav with party workers in Patna on Sunday. Pics/Diwakar SharmaBJP MP and Pataliputra candidate Ram Kripal Yadav with party workers in Patna on Sunday. Pics/Diwakar Sharma

Interestingly, the 66-year-old parliamentarian, who underscored concerns for public safety in a state where robberies and murders occur daily, lamenting the apparent helplessness of law enforcement agencies before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar supported the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), now expresses optimism, stating that the collaborative efforts of the Central and state governments were beginning to yield benefits in every corner of the state.

Ram Kripal Yadav opened up to mid-day about unemployment and the drug menace and countered the Opposition’s claims that his party is mulling over changing the Constitution if the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has a landslide victory. 

Excerpts from the interview:

The competition seems to be tough for you. Why do you think the voters will support Ram Kripal Yadav over RJD’s Misa Bharti?
I have stood by the side of people in my constituency. I have listened to their issues and resolved their problems. Above all, I live in this jhopdi [his ancestral house] where my party workers can walk in to meet me anytime to discuss any topic with me. I have been doing this social work for the past 40 years. My image is crystal clear because I am not involved in any corruption.

But my opponent has not done anything for the people. I am a sevak and she is a shaashak; she is rich and I am a ‘fakir’; she lives in a mahal and I live in a jhopdi; she has ‘dhan’ [money power], but I have jan [people’s mandate]. This is the fight. We’re confident in securing a substantial majority in this election. The support for BJP is strong across the state, thanks to the widespread influence of leaders like Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar. We are the ‘sevak of janta’ and Modi-ji is a mass leader in this country where 140 crore people have been supporting him.
What do you have to say about unemployment as the youth are worried about their future?
Yes, unemployment is a core issue in this country but the Central government has been consistently working to resolve this issue. There are many programmes run by the Central government to address this issue and people are getting jobs.

But what is the actual reason behind this issue of unemployment? This issue did not suddenly come up in the last 10 years. We have been facing this issue since independence. Bihar is among the worst-affected states due to unemployment. Why did the then-Central government fail to address this issue in Bihar in the past 60 years?
Whatever development like four lanes and Patna Metro you are seeing here is just because of the current Central government, which is committed to improving the infrastructure and living standard of people in Bihar and other states.

Earlier, people had been living in the dark as there were no electricity connections in rural Bihar. Even those residing in urban settlements would face frequent electricity shortages. But today each village in Bihar is getting an uninterrupted electricity supply.

People in Bihar have reposed faith in the BJP, which has frequently witnessed murder and looting. A number of people migrated in past, but now the law and order issue has been improved due to the present government.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav has been aggressively addressing public rallies. How it is going to affect the poll outcome?
It is not going to affect us at all. I know the party [RJD] as I was there before [joining the BJP]. Why will it affect us? Did you [Tejashwi Yadav] not sufficiently visit during the last Assembly polls in Bihar? Do you really think that your aggressive rallies will be translated into votes?
They tout themselves as the champions of social justice, but where are the Dalit and backward classes? Where is the Muslim community in its M-Y (Muslim Yadav) political equation? Can you see them anywhere? Are they with them?

Judicial infrastructure is crumbling in Bihar. Cases are piling up everywhere, including in this state, but the government does not seem to be doing anything about it. What do you have to say about this?
Yes. The judicial infrastructure is in bad shape. But the Central government is taking initiative. Also, the Supreme Court is working on this.
Students are disheartened by paper leaks. Why has this menace not been eliminated? Many students have committed suicide because of joblessness.
It is an offence to tamper with question papers. Lok Sabha has passed a bill to prevent paper leaks in the country. Now, the accused will be strictly dealt with by the law. We are trying to protect the rights of students so that their lives are 
not spoilt.
The young crowd seems to be inclined towards Tejashwi Yadav whom they consider a ‘youth icon’ because he has promised to provide jobs if he is given the mandate. What do you have to say about this?
Who told you this? What has he done so far to influence the young crowd? Has he given a single job to anyone? A government is run through policies and these policies are hit by either the prime minister or chief minister. So, everything is under the control of PM, CM or DM in a district.

There is a saying in Hindi: ‘Maal maharaj ke aur mirja khele holi’. We are doing the developmental work and the Opposition is staking claims.

The Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government, when it was in coalition with BJP, had decided to give 10 lakh jobs in the next five years, but later it [RJD] became an allied partner in the state government. We gave jobs to teachers in Bihar. The clear credit goes to the NDA government and Nitish Kumar for these jobs. Now, tell me how many jobs did you [RJD] give in the past when you ruled the state with a clear mandate?

Rs 4.50cr
Value of Ram Kripal Yadav’s properties

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