Madhepura: ‘Rome belongs to the Pope and Madhepura belongs to the Gop’, JDU’s victory here is necessary to maintain the political relevance of CM Nitish.

Voting will be held on many high-profile seats in the third phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. If there is one person for whom the stakes are highest at this stage, it is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who has to prove his political relevance to the BJP by ensuring that JDU retains the Madhepura seat. This seat was previously represented by Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav. It has been said about this seat that the Rome Pope’s Madhepura is Gop’s. Madhepura Lok Sabha seat is one which is being discussed a lot.

Lalu Yadav’s credibility rests on this seat which is considered to be dominated by Yadavs because JDU is in control of this seat which is considered to be the stronghold of Yadavs. No non-Yadav has won from this constituency since 1967. The demographics of this seat explain why voters here vote this way. Of the more than 14 lakh voters in Madhepura, there are five lakh Yadavs and two lakh Muslims. Traditionally, they vote for RJD, which changed in 2009 when Lalu lost. However, even during the Modi tsunami of 2014, RJD snatched back this seat. Ultimately, in 2019, the Modi factor and polarization made five lakh Yadavs side with JDU’s Dinesh Yadav, who is also the JDU candidate this time.

BJP sources say that during the seat sharing talks, Madhepura was one of the handful of seats which JDU was adamant on keeping in its bag. Now, he says it is the responsibility of JDU to retain it when this Yadav bastion goes to polls on Tuesday. There are two reasons why this seat is a test for Nitish Kumar’s leadership in Bihar amid murmurs that the BJP is keen on the top post.

According to BJP sources, Dinesh Yadav is not only facing anti-incumbency sentiment, but he is also unpopular at the local level. The BJP fears that despite the Modi factor and 1.5 lakh Rajputs, three lakh OBCs and two lakh Brahmins being BJP supporters, Yadav’s unpopularity may prove costly for the NDA. On a larger scale, Nitish Kumar will have to prove that his ‘good governance babu’ credentials in Bihar are intact enough to ensure his candidate’s victory from a seat which according to the BJP survey would have been best given to someone else.

According to BJP, Madhepura is the stronghold of Yadavs who have traditionally supported RJD. But in 2009, riding on the popularity of Nitish Kumar, Sharad Yadav won on JDU ticket and in 2019, riding on the popularity of PM Modi, Dinesh Yadav of JDU won. But since then, a lot has changed. Is Nitish Kumar’s image as a good administrator still intact? If this is so, then retaining the seat due to Modi ji’s popularity should not be a problem for JDU.

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