The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is missing its patriarch Lalu Prasad, who is recovering from various ailments at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi after being convicted in the fodder scam, ahead of the Jharkhand Assembly election on November 30.
In the initial years after the state of Jharkhand was carved out from Bihar, the RJD used to be a force to reckon with, but with the passage of time, its influence dissipated gradually. This time, the party is fighting in alliance with the JMM and the Congress. The RJD has fielded candidates in seven constituencies - Hussainabad, Chatra, Chhatarpur, Koderma, Barkatha, Deoghar and Godda.
The party drew a blank in the last Assembly election, though five of its leaders had made it to the Vidhan Sabha in 2009 election.
Many of RJD's state leaders either have deserted the party or joined other political outfits including former state president Annapurna Devi, who joined the BJP ahead of the election.
Abhay Singh, current RJD President in Jharkhand, says, "Yes, we miss Lalu Prasad. No one can take his place. But we have put up strong candidates in at least five constituencies where we hope to repeat the 2009 performance."
But the RJD is putting all its might at command in this election to get a foothold in the state politics. RJD supremo Lalu Prasad seems to have asked the top party leaders to campaign in the Jharkhand Assembly polls.
The party has also released a list of 40 star campaigners for Jharkhand polls which include names of Lalu's family members, but it is Lalu Prasad whose absence is badly felt, said a party leader.
Jharkhand will vote in five phases, with the first one on November 30 and the last on December 20. Results will be declared on December 23.