The havoc wreaked by the river Gandak can upset the electoral calculations of candidates in 24 assembly constituencies in three flood-threatened districts that are the key to the political future of former CMs Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi.
However, neither of the two is a contestant this time.
The breach in the Saran embankment of northwestern Bihar (bordering Uttar Pradesh) has inundated large parts of the districts of Gopalganj (where the breach has taken place), Siwan and Saran. These districts together send 24 MLAs to the Bihar assembly, whose strength is 243.
Polling for these 24 seats is to take place on October 28. In the 2005 assembly polls, the Rashtriya Janata Dal-Congress combine and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) shared the seats fairly evenly.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the JD(U) — Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s party — could win just the Gopalganj seat of the four this region has. RJD leaders Lalu Prasad (Chapra) and Uma Shankar Singh (Maharajganj) had won two of the four and Siwan went to a JD(U) rebel.
“This flood will heighten the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the elections for these 24 seats. It will impact the composition of the Bihar assembly,” said P.K. Sinha, spokesperson of the anti-NDA United Democratic Socialist Front and a former ally of Nitish Kumar.
He indicated the Opposition had been given a readymade poll issue. “There should be an independent enquiry to find out what happened to more than R18 crore shown to have been spent on strengthening the bund,” he added.
However, state JD(U) president Vijay Chaudhary said: “There’s no failure on the part of the government. It’s clear
from that everything possible has been done to save the embankment. But nature’s fury can sometimes be overwhelming.” He said the government was doing all it could to provide relief to the affected.