Wanna win? Put many in the field! That seems to be the funda for elections for all parties in the fray.
So divisive is the mood here, that even well entrenched regional leaders, who may have fought dozens of elections in the past, feel jittery and insecure this time.
So to divide their opposition, they themselves are encouraging that the numbers against the rivals’ swell and swell, till the point is reached, that the mainline candidates have no opposition left! Thus, Katihar’s dummy candidates are the ones who would re-write history this poll season, when the ballot boxes are ready on October 21.
Both the ruling and the prominent opposition party candidates have fielded dummies in the poll fray in a bid to split the votes of their rivals. For example, if a nominee is unsure about the support of a particular community, then he fields a dummy candidate from that community to cause a dent in vote bank of his opponent.
The mainline political parties are supporting these dummies (colloquially called vote katuas) with man, material and financial assistance. “Their day begins and ends enticing the vote katuas,” remarked a local LJP leader Samrendra Kunal. Internecine rivalries among political parties and groups have also promoted the culture of dummy candidates in the Katihar assembly segment.
Annoyed over the denial of party nominations, some ticket aspirants also have set up dummies to defeat the official candidates. A prominent political party in the constituency has fielded a dummy candidate against the nominee of its ally, as it could not get the seat as part of the seat-sharing arrangement.
That particular party has put all it’s might into vanquishing the official nominee who it treats as the ‘official enemy number 1’. The opposition is passé! The dummy candidates are also exploiting the situation to the hilt.
“They have turned the elections into a money spinning business,” said Kunal adding, “After making a small investment in terms of security deposit, they want to earn a huge amount.” On the other hand, the lead nominees of mainline political parties are also raising the issue pertaining to the Ayodhya title suit verdict.
Their leaders, who are visiting the constituency, are interpreting the verdict to meet their respective ends. While one of them said that the ‘Muslims are unhappy’ over the verdict, the other said that ‘it was more a panchayati sort of thing than a legal judgment.’
However, the silver lining is that to date people, by and large, are attaching least importance to the verdict. Once known as the “Mini Calcutta” of the Seemanchal for its industries, Katihar today is a basket case literally for lack of infrastructure.
With all its factories (whether that of jute, safety match box or soap) gone, the people somehow survive on farming, which has also been greatly hampered by the abysmal power situation in the district. Annual floods by the Mahananda add to the agony of the people of the constituency, a major portion of which, adjacent to the Barsoi and Kadwa blocks remain perennially waterlogged. The R150 crore Mahananda flood management scheme, the foundation of which was laid by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in July last, is yet to take off.
Prominent candidates in the fray are sitting MLA of the BJP Tarkeshwar Prasad, RJD’s Ram Prakash Mahto, BK Yadav of the Congress and NCP’s Bhai Samshuddin. Besides them, a host of independent candidates have filed nominations.