Nitish Kumar is a world record holder, though not as famous as his namesake chief minister. In 2012, he left Dutch farmers far behind by producing 72.9 tonnes of potatoes per hectare.
But the 50-year-old farmer of village Darvespura in Nalanda district — also the home town of the CM — is a worried man. His crop is on the verge of wilting because of deficit rainfall. “We have somehow managed with private bore wells, but things are not looking good,” he says.
Farm complications have kept Nitish Kumar out of the poll drill. “Elections will come and go, but one cannot survive without the food we grow,” he says.
Fame, he says, does not change the ground realities.
“The government’s bore wells are non-functional and the canals are dry. The diesel subsidy is yet to arrive... If it is not provided on time, it will not serve any purpose. We cannot think beyond agriculture, and are scared by the impending drought,” he says.
Lack of attention to the farm sector and poor yield have already impacted the villagers. Darvespura’s Suman Kumar, who received the President’s award for the highest paddy yield (2,249 quintals) per hectare, is battling for life in a Patna hospital.
In Karjanand and Kubri villages, close to Rajgir town, crops have begun to wilt.
Swaroop Yadav, 52, a resident of Jatti Bhagwanpur, says the chief minister developed Nalanda but forgot the farmers. He also resents the acquisition of farmland to fuel the chief minister’s dream of turning Nalanda into an international centre of excellence.
“We have not received the total compensation for the land taken at a measly Rs 10,000 per katha. We need solutions to our problems, but are not sure who will provide it,” says another farmer.
Alliances of foes-turned-friends and friends-turned-foes have added to their uncertainty.