Archana Masih in Revelganj, Bihar
Beside the railway tracks, the open ground is the quintessential rural setting. A dust storm in the horizon, trains chugging down the tracks, a small podium surrounded by a crowd and the candidate spinning out some jewels of rustic rhetoric.
"They called me a joker first and now they call me a professor. Children want to learn from me and I am invited to teach," says Laloo Prasad Yadav, referring to his performance as the country's railway minister.
Laloo arrives in the small town after addressing four meetings in Saran, the constituency that has voted him to victory in three previous elections. This is his first meeting in Revelganj, and has an interesting history of its own.
Named after Henry Revel, a British magistrate, Revelganj has the oldest municipality in Bihar and is also known as Gautamsthan, after Maharishi Gautam. Locals speak of its history with pride, not forgetting to mention that Jayaprakash Narayan, the stalwart of the anti-Indira Gandhi movement during the Emergency, went to school here.
So it is here on the banks of the Saryu that Laloo, whose political career began with his resistance to the Emergency, has come to mingle with voters.
Image: A small crowd awaits the arrival of their messaiah. Photographs: Seema Pant
Also see: Mayawati's jalwa in Laloo land | India Votes 2009