Yadav, who is facing heat from RJD's Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav and BJP's Vijay Singh Kushwaha, has won four times from Madhepura - home of B P Mandal, the architect of Mandal Commission report that led to reservation in government jobs for OBCs. He also won thrice from other constituencies including twice from Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) Lok Sabha constituency.

Apart from Pappu Yadav and Kushwaha, the 66-year-old veteran politician is up against nine other opponents when this Lok Sabha seat goes to polls on Wednesday.

Pappu Yadav, acquitted in CPI-M leader Ajit Sarkar’s murder case last year by the High Court, has been fielded by Lalu Prasad Yadav. The 46-year-old, against whom there are 17 cases pending in which charge has been framed, is seen as Lalu's best bet to defeat Sharad Yadav.

The BJP has chosen to tap a prominent non-Yadav caste leader in Vijay Singh Kushwaha, husband of Renu Kushwaha –former minister in Nitish Kumar's cabinet. With her husband going to BJP, Renu has also crossed over.

Billed as a triangular contest among JD (U), RJD and BJP, the constituency, which has over 16.7 lakh electorate, is said to be witnessing sharp polarisation in the wake of hate speech by BJP leader Giriraj Singh.

Political observers say Lalu is catching the imagination of minority Muslims and his Yadav castemen which will help Pappu to go one-up on Sharad Yadav. The RJD is relying on 1.5 lakh Muslims here, they say.

"Benefits of split between JD (U) and BJP is going in favour of RJD in Madhepura," says Shiv Balak Prasad, professor of Political Science in B P Mandal University.

Considering the dynamic situation, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has camped in Madhepura since April 19 to help his party chief Sharad Yadav sail through rough seas, say analysts.

There were reports that Sharad Yadav was offered to contest from Nalanda, home turf of Nitish Kumar, in place of Madhepura but Yadav, however, dismisses this as a BJP ‘propaganda’.

With about 3.50 lakh voters hailing from Yadav caste, Madhepura is considered a happy hunting ground for leaders of the backward caste, who are engaged in agriculture and cattle rearing.

History also suggests that since 1952, with exception of Acharya Kriplani in 1957, Madhepura has never elected a non-Yadav candidate.

Vijay Singh Kushwaha is hoping that nearly four lakh forward caste votes and two lakh electors of Vaishyas, traditional voters of BJP, will be added to over 60,000 votes of his Kushwaha caste.

With Narendra Modi addressing a rally in his support on April 24 immediately after filing nominations from Varanasi, Kushwaha is making all efforts to break the view that only a 'Yadav' can win Madhepura.

Refusing to talk about Pappu Yadav and Vijay Singh Kushwaha, Sharad Yadav said, "The development work I have done for Madhepura is before eyes of people here."

Nitish Kumar has made emotional appeal to the public, saying a senior leader like Sharad Yadav is needed in Parliament.

To pin down Pappu Yadav, Sharad Yadav has reached out to his rival Anand Mohan Singh, former JD (U) leader serving jail term in a murder case. Sharad Yadav travelled to Panchgachhia to seek blessings of Singh's mother in a bid to woo Rajputs.

While Sharad Yadav is trying to tap Anand Mohan Singh, BJP recently won the support of his fellow casteman Kishore Kumar Munna, who served as Independent MLA from Saharsa in 2005.

Madhepura parliamentary constituency comprises six assembly seats of Madhepura, Alamnagar, Bihariganj, Sonebarsa, Saharsa and Mahisi.

In 2010 Bihar elections, while Alamnagar, Bihariganj and Sonebarsa went to JD (U), Saharsa had a BJP MLA while Madhepura and Mahisi are represented by RJD.

Sharad Yadav has won Madhepura Lok Sabha seat four times in 1991, 1996, 1999 and 2009. He was defeated by RJD supremo Lalu Prasad on the seat in 1998 and 2004.

Lalu Prasad, who had won both Madhepura and Chapra Lok Sabha seats in 2004 vacated the former, following which Pappu Yadav won it. However, Sharad Yadav, who had gone to Rajya Sabha at that time, did not contest against Pappu Yadav, who at that time won against Ravindra Charan Yadav.

(Agencies)

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