Madhepura lies at the heart of the region affected by the devastating floods caused by the breach in the Kosi last August. Eight months later, the issues raised in the aftermath of the floods have returned to dominate the poll battle.
Whose negligence led to the devastation — the Centre’s or the state’s? Who is to blame for the tardy relief? Who is responsible for the slow pace of rehabilitation? Sharad Yadav, 65, JD(U) chief and its candidate from this seat, blames the UPA at the Centre. His main opponent, Ravindra Charan Yadav of the RJD indicts the JD(U)-BJP government in the state.
Madhepura has been the scene of many a titanic poll battle — notably between Sharad, who has contested this seat in every election since 1991, and Lalu Prasad, RJD chief. Sharad has lost twice, both times to Lalu, but also defeated him once, in 1998.
This time, of course Lalu has shifted to Chapra and Pataliputra. In scoring debating points over the floods, the honours have been evenly split between Sharad and Ravindra. But Sharad’s stature — and the fact that he has represented the constituency thrice before — may make the difference.
“Sharad Yadav is a national leader,” said Raman Mandal, resident of Madhepura town. “His becoming our MP once again will increase our constituency’s importance.”
Voters also remember that Sharad was instrumental in the setting up of a medical college and an engineering college in the town. Ravindra, a three time MLA from neighbouring Kishanganj, has fewer achievements to show, but keeps pointing to the many new trains that now halt at Madhepura thanks to Railway Minister Lalu Yadav.