Newbies on the political arena they may be, but seeing Misa Bharti, the 40-year-old daughter of Laloo Yadav, and Chirag Paswan, 30, actor-turned-politician son and heir of Ramvilas Paswan, on the campaign trail makes one wonder if they learnt electioneering in the cradle.
Misa’s election is over in Pataliputra and she’s now campaigning for her mother. An unscheduled stop at Amnora Agwan, a small backward caste village miles from the nearest market in Chhapra, sees Misa work her charm. Initially, she is a little impatient as the sarpanch tries to gather more women to pose with her and welcome her. But she quickly takes control and starts talking to them in the local dialect, expressing sympathy by putting her arms around the women.
Chirag Paswan. (Photograph by Manoj Sinha)
She is critical about the lack of jobs, the poor standard of education in the village school, the lack of drinking water, blaming it all on the Nitish Kumar government. Misa even raises the issue of inflated electricity bills (a la Arvind Kejriwal). When a village woman counters saying they have no electricity, Misa is lost for words for a moment. One of the women in the crowd comes to her aid. “I get huge bills even though there is no electricity,” she says. A quick appreciative glance and Misa is back in form. “Exactly what I was saying. Look, she is having to bear the cost of a bad government. If you have to pay huge bills, how will you have money to pay for food or other essentials?” she asks.
By the time Misa resumes her journey, one senses the impression she’s created in just three days of campaigning. Women, men, even the youngsters seem happy to have met the daughter of Laloo who, according to them, is innocent in the fodder scam. “It’s political vendetta,” says college student Sivrati Devi.
Meanwhile, Chirag Paswan, LS candidate from Jamui, describes himself as “old fashioned” when it comes to connecting with the people. It just isn’t possible through social media, he says. His acting stint brings with it its own glamour as does his ability to connect with the youth with his talk of development and creating jobs. Doting father Paswan Sr says Chirag’s focus now “is totally on development”. Needless to say, Chirag has put his non-existent acting career on the backburner. Apparently, it was only a hobby “as I wanted to see myself on the big screen at least once. But now politics is going to be my full-time commitment...you can’t take it lightly”. The son is also sure that the alliance with the BJP “towards which I was inclined for a very long time” will pay off.