Can Rajiv Pratap Rudy spring a surprise and defeat the sitting MP in Saran, a certain Laloo Yadav?
Reportage: Archana Masih. Photographs: Seema Pant
It's 8.45 pm and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the elegant English-speaking national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party, is addressing a small crowd in Bhojpuri.
The venue is a largish courtyard in the middle of a congested mohalla where Rudy, a four-time contestant and twice a winner from Chhapra, now named Saran after delimitation of the consituency, is making a spirited case for victory in the local dialect.
It's a far cry from his familiar image as an eloquent defender of the BJP in the realm of English news television, and Rudy, 47, is making a ferocious attempt to establish a local connection -- that one crucial weapon that can often make or break a candidate in Indian democracy.
"If Lalu Yadav wins from here, it will be no news but if he loses -- it would make big news," he says holding a mike in his hand, the BJP sash around his neck, "In the historic land of Rajendarbabu (Dr Rajendra Prasad, India's first President)), you will be making history if you vote for me. It is now time for Lalu's vidaai (farewell) from here."
"Lalu has already lost the election," says an enthusiastic supporter at the edge of the stage.
Image: Rajiv Pratap Rudy believes the electoral statistics favour his victory this election.
Also see: Watch Rajiv Pratap Rudy on the campaign trail | 'After calling me a joker, they now call me professor'