Misa Bharti: Even Modi harping on caste, why single out Bihar?

Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti on politics of caste, karma and lineage

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Ajay Singh | March 24, 2014


Campaigning in Patliputra, Misa Bharti says Ram Kripal Yadav`s
Campaigning in Patliputra, Misa Bharti says Ram Kripal Yadav`s

Misa Bharti, the eldest daughter of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, derives her name from a draconian law imposed during emergency (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) to curb citizen's right. She was born when her father was jailed under MISA. Nearing 38 years now, Misa considers politics as her natural habitat and is slugging it out in a predominantly Yadav belt in the riverine (Diaara) region near Danapur, in Patliputra Lok Sabha seat.

In a brief conversation at her stopover for lunch at Bishunpur village, Misa outlined her priorities and explained the logic of joining politics.

How tough is campaigning and what is your first impression?

This kind of campaigning is pretty tough but I am enthused by the response I get. Wherever I am going people are responding overwhelmingly and positively. This gives energy to me to work more.

Has it become tougher after Ram Kripal Yadav, a trusted colleague of your father, deserted the party and is not contesting as the BJP candidate from Patliputra?

I do not think his (Ram Kripal’s) desertion made much impact. Of course he might have marginal influence in his own right. But that does not alter the ground realities, which are in our favour.

You went to his house in Delhi and tried to pacify him amidst high drama.

Yes, I did go to his house. But all that is past now.

When did you think you are cut out for politics?

From my name you can draw the inference that I am a daughter of struggle (alluding to the Emergency) and I have closely watched politics in the family since my formative years. You know I am a trained doctor – a profession that teaches one to serve people. I think politics is also an efficient instrument to serve the people. This is the reason why I joined it.

Don't you feel your lineage and being daughter of Lalu Prasad is the only merit you have at present?

I don't deny that my family connection does help me. It does. But that is not the sole criterion (for getting elected). I would be rejected by the people if I do not measure up to their expectation. My father is not a raja whose legacy can be inherited through lineage. I am slogging it out in the field and I hope to make my own mark.

You belong to the young generation. How do you reconcile to virulent casteism that divides Bihar?

I do not agree with this view. Bihar is more sinned than the sin itself. It is maligned for casteism, which is prevalent in equal measure across the country. Look at the manner in which the BJP's prime ministerial candidate has discovered his OBC background in this election. Though he won elections in his state three times and claims to be riding a wave, he keeps harping on his OBC links time and again. Is this not casteism?

Candidates are chosen on the basis of caste consideration the country but Bihar is singled out.

(A version of this interview appeared in Navbharat Times)

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