At 93, Ram Sundar Das is the oldest sitting MP in the Lok Sabha and his self belief to face the heat of another ding-dong battle with his old foe Ram Vilas Paswan, LJP chief, makes for a unique tryst with destiny of again becoming the eldest MP in the 16th Lok Sabha.
Mr. Das has had the better of Mr. Paswan twice in his 25-year-long clash with Mr. Paswan, who has dominated the seat after its creation in 1977 as a reserved constituency for the scheduled caste.
He has triumphed on seven occasions, including three victories over Mr. Das. Mr. Das won from here the first time in 1991 and then in 2009 when the JD(U) was in alliance with the BJP.
While engaged in a battle of one-upmanship with Mr. Das, Mr. Paswan has to contend with the two bigwigs in Bihar politics who are out to settle a score with him. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is fighting a proxy war through Mr. Das on Mr. Paswan, who hasn’t taken lightly the creation of the Maha Dalit group by the former leaving him (Mr. Paswan) with his community votes (Dussadhs).
Mr. Paswan has rubbed RJD chief Lalu Prasad the wrong way by parting ways with him and joining the BJP bandwagon.
Mr. Paswan was elected to the Rajya Sabha on the support of the RJD and the Congress.
The Congress has fielded Sanjeev Prasad Tony, who enjoys the backing of the RJD’s MY(Muslim-Yadav) combination.
The nonagenarian wants to bring home his big catch the one last time in the land he says has served with the same dedication in the past two decades as the two rivers---Ganga and Gandak---have nourished it for centuries.
Among the dwindling species of leaders sporting the Gandhi cap, Mr. Das starts the day early in the State capital talking to his workers and is virtually coaxed into taking a bath past 9 a.m. He tells The Hindu that it was his free day today and it was upto to his choice when and where to go.Confident of win “The party has given me the ticket so I’m fighting,” he says, confident that he would be able to score again over Mr. Paswan. He takes a dig at Mr. Paswan saying he used to criticise communalistic politics and happened to be sitting in the lap of the BJP now.
Though he set a Guinness record for the highest-margin victory in a parliamentary constituency in 1989, Mr. Paswan lost to Mr. Das by about 38,000 votes in 2009 when he had contested the seat with the support of the RJD.
LJP leaders admit his defeat and the changed political scenario had forced Mr. Paswan to rethink his strategy and join hands with the BJP to get the upper castes with the Maha Dalits no more favouring him.
During his roadshow, he makes specific halts at places where he catches up with people known to him for decades. Keeping his age in mind his party workers don’t trouble him to meet people along the road side.
He walks slowly but firmly requiring a helping hand only for climbing stairs. Mentally alert he reminisces about his old associations and his hey days in politics almost five decades ago.
Mr. Das visits the house of his deceased friend Bechan Sharma, former legislator, at Baikuntpur under Rajapakar block. Those present say the former legislator had played a crucial role in making Mr. Das the chief minister.