Champaran, Bihar: Nearly 5,000 people, banners and placards and even half-a dozen elephants: Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal had left no stone unturned to give Tejashwi Yadav a big build-up on his maiden political yatra from Champaran's Gandhi maidan. The Janadesh Apaman Yatra (rally against insult to mandate), a call to action against Nitish Kumar, is also seen as an effort to establish a mass base for the junior-most Yadav, widely tipped to be the political heir to his father.
Champaran occupies a special place in India's freedom movement - it was here that Mahatma Gandhi had started his Champaran satyagraha against the British exactly 100 years ago. It is also the place from where Nitish Kumar started his key political rallies.
Named the opposition leader of Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav is spearheading the agitation against Mr Kumar, his former boss, who ended the Grand Alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress three weeks ago and formed a new government in Bihar with the BJP.
The end to the already shaky tie-up came after Lalu Yadav said Tejashwi Yadav, who was facing allegations of corruption, would not step down from the post of the Deputy Chief Minister. Lalu Yadav and his party later said the corruption allegations were an excuse that Mr Kumar, who was already angling for a tie-up with the BJP, used.
Denying the allegations against him yet again, Tejashwi Yadav today said, "Nobody has got the capacity to punish me... Neither Nitish Kumar not Narendra Modi ... only you can punish me".
"Nitish capitulated before the same people who earlier questioned his DNA. Now the BJP should enlighten us on whether Nitish's DNA is good or bad," he said, referring to Narendra Modi's remark at a rally that once had hugely irked the Chief Minister.
As the rally wound its way to Madhopur in West Champaran, large groups of supporters were seen waiting every 3 or four kilometers. They came to greet the leaders and some of them joined the rally.