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NDA faces rebel heat

india Updated: Oct 25, 2010 00:52 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times
Anirban Guha Roy

Ranbhoomi, a Bhojpuri film with a revenge-cum-rebellion theme, is running to popular acclaim at local cinema halls in Bettiah.

In real life, the constituency’s political turf is witnessing a similar battle of sorts as the third phase of assembly polls in Bihar approaches.

Sitting MLA and state Tourism Minister Renu Devi of BJP faces competition from her old friend in the party, Anil Jha, who is contesting as an independent in Bettiah in northwest Bihar’s West Champaran district.

Jha turned BJP rebel after the party refused to give him a ticket. Birbal Yadav of the RJD and Madan Mohan Tiwary of the Congress are also in the fray in a constituency where development and law and order are the key issues.

The voters are a mix of upper castes and backward castes — including Nonias, Binds, Mallahs — and Yadavs and Muslims. The war of words between Jha and Renu is taking centrestage in the run-up to the October 28 election.

“What has Renu Devi done for Bettiah? She has never come to the constituency,” said Jha. “She has not delivered as an MLA and only patronised nepotism, a reason the NDA government got a bad name here.”

He, however, had good things to say about CM Nitish Kumar. Jha also claimed that he would return to the ruling alliance if he — and it — won.

Renu dismissed Jha’s criticism. “What I’ve done for Bettiah is there for everybody to see — bridges, roads (have been built) and law and order (has improved),” she said.

“I may not have spent much time here because of my preoccupation as minister, but Jha is giving the BJP a bad name.” Renu said she was confident of winning by a “record” margin of votes.