A bridge over river Parman has always been a bridge too far for residents of Sikti in northeastern Bihar’s Araria district — and a symbol of their anger at the political class.
"Will we ever get that bridge?" said Khekru Mallik of Kankhudia village. "Ending our decades of isolation and helplessness depends on its construction."
Like Mallik, most people in Sikti believe a bridge connecting the flood-ravaged Kursakanta area with neighbouring Forbesganj would save them from endless misery.
Close to Nepal, Sikti constituency has been severely affected by recurring floods by the Nuna, Bakra and Parman rivers that criss-cross the region. "The surging waters of these rivers, emanating from the Himalayas, cascade downstream, wreaking havoc on several villages in this part of the district," said Suresh Mandal of Birban village, adding that road links are completely snapped during floods.
"As the area is close to the international border, connecting Kursakanta and Forbesganj is essential also from the security point of view," Congress nominee Shagufta Azim told Hindustan Times.
Azim, daughter-in-law of six-time MLA Mohammad Azimuddin, is poised to give a tough fight to BJP candidate Anandi Prasad Yadav who won in the 2000 assembly polls.
JD(U) candidate Murlidhar Mandal had won the seat in the February 2005 polls as an independent. In the October 2005 polls, which were held after no political formation got a clear majority in the February polls, he won as a JD(U) nominee.
Considering the changes in the social equations after delimitation, the ruling coalition decided to leave the seat for the BJP this time around too.
A dejected Mandal is now contesting the election under the banner of the Vanchit Mukti Morcha. Also in the fray is LJP candidate Vijay Kumar Mandal, who represents the Keot community.
"The Kaivarats (as Keots settled in this part of Araria are often called) are crucial for the victory of any candidate," said Kesho Mandal of Bakhri village on the Jokihat-Sikti road.