Patliputra: Battling two heavyweights in her debut in the political arena, Misa Bharti is banking on hi-tech poll strategies and family support in her bid to salvage the pride of her father RJD supremo Lalu Yadav, who lost the Patliputra seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
39-year-old Misa, an MBBS, is fighting from this seat against two seasoned politicians once considered her father`s very close aides- ex-RJD veteran and now BJP candidate Ram Kripal Yadav and sitting MP Ranjan Prasad Yadav of JD(U). Significantly, Ranjan defeated Lalu in 2009 by a margin of over 23,000 votes here.
Apart from the vote bank of her father, who cannot contest polls due to conviction in a fodder scam case, Misa is relying on her husband`s management skills for her electoral debut in this seat nestled along the banks of river Ganga.
Being a computer engineer and management graduate, Misa`s husband Shailesh Kumar is giving hi-tech support to her election campaign. Patliputra goes to polls on April 17.
"Naturally his experience is coming handy. We are doing our campaign in a more planned way on the basis of new hi-tech analysis," Misa told PTI.
Asked if the election battle has become a prestige issue for her father, she, however, replied in the negative.
"Aisa nahi hai (It`s not like that). It is his seat where he lost last elections. For him, all the 40 seats of Bihar are prestige issue including Patliputra. He is the national president of the party and I am his daughter so it is his duty also to help his daughter in her electoral debut," she said.
Despite his hectic campaign schedule, Lalu- who is the sole star campaigner of his party- visited the constituency over 20 times in past 10 days to mobilise support for Misa.
While Misa has always been active during her parents` election campaigns, she admits that it is different ball game altogether to seek votes for herself.
"It is a different experience. You have to convince people about yourself when you are seeking their votes. You have to spend a lot of time with them," she said.
Asked about her equation with her rival Ramkripal Yadav, who left RJD after he was denied ticket from here, she said that he will always remain her "chacha".
"I have tried but could not speak with him. He will remain my chacha. Personal relations will always be there despite political rivalry," she added.
For her husband, this election is like launching a new product or brand and Shailesh is using all his corporate experience to ensure she comes out with flying colours.
"She is a great leader and I am a good manager so this combo is killer. She has the charisma, name and charm to connect with people but when it comes to translate that into votes, my work begins," he said.
Shailesh, an MBA and computer engineer, has professional experience working for ICICI Bank and Infosys.
"I have the experience of working with leading corporates and this experience of planning and managing is coming handy for her. It is like launching a new product or building a new brand in 30 days time. I thought that traditional way is not going to work so I made a master plan on the basis of geographic, demographic and statistical data of Patliputra constituency," Shailesh said.
Misa was born during the Emergency when Lalu was jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). This had prompted him to name his daughter as Misa.
Though the constituency, located in Patna district, is dominated by Yadav castemen among whom Lalu`s popularity is still intact, the going has not been smooth for `Lalu ki beti`, say political analysts.
In the fight among Yadavs, which is expected to end in a photo finish, support of minority Muslims and sizeable presence of upper caste particularly Bhumihars would ultimately decide the winner, political observers say.
"There are 6 assembly segments in Patliputra and data shows that Maner and Masaurhi are our stronghold from where we must have strong lead. Apart from that 25 per cent of the voters give preference to candidates profile where Misa fits the bill," Shailesh said.
Campaign plans have been drawn up based on this data.
Asked if their plan has yielded results, Shailesh said that she has gained confidence from people`s support.
"Initially she was uncertain but there were circumstances that her dad could not contest so it was like forced. But, she accepted it willingly. As the campaign progressed, she has got confidence. People are appreciating her hard work and believe that she is not a parachute drop," he said.
"She was handling her parent`s election campaigns in the past like Priyanka (Gandhi) does. Now people are asking her father (Lalu) that why did you hide her so long," he said.
Not only Lalu but Misa`s father-in-law B N Pathik is working hard in rural belts during her campaign. Pathik, an ex air force employee, was posted at Neora branch of a nationalised bank and is quite popular there. Neora falls under Danapur assembly segment of Patliputra constituency.
"I have worked in Neora and people of adjacent villages know me so I am also urging them to vote for her," he said.
Gauging the mood among the dominant section of voters, BJP deployed its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at Bikram on April 10 to pitch for Ram Kripal at a public rally to boost his chances.