Bihar has the dubious distinction of being the most backward state in the country — high on crime and lawlessness, and low on literacy and development. But it is also a place where a cowherd can dream of winning a civic body election and see that dream come true. Anil Das just goes to show that the state still has a lot to hope for.
Das, a poor man in his 50s, worked most of his life as a cowherd and farm labourer. Today, he is the elected councillor of Ward 20 of Fatuha Nagar Parishad in Patna district. On his way to the post, the simple cowherd defeated powerful candidates in the urban civic bodies elections.
Das, who belongs to a backward agrarian caste, never dreamt of becoming a ward councillor. But his neighbours never doubted his ability. Today, they say his honesty and dedication to society helped him win the support of the people. “He worked as a cowherd as well as a labourer, like dozens of other villagers. But his honest image helped him,” says one proud neighbour.
Das’s employer, Sudhir Singh, a rich upper caste farmer with political aspirations, played an important role in his electoral success. “Singh convinced people that although he was not contesting the election, as the seat was reserved, he fully supported Das. It influenced people to vote for Das,” another neighbour pipes in.
With the power to do something for his people, Das aims to turn his ward into a model for others in Bihar to follow. “We will work for the development of the ward,” he says.
The urban civic bodies elections for six municipal corporations, 42 nagar parishads and 70 nagar panchayats was held on May 26. About 2,864 councillors were elected for various civic bodies spread over 37 districts. But none of their stories could possibly be more unbelievable than Das’s.