Half of Mithilanchal and most of Seemanchal and the Kosi belt with 47 of the Bihar assembly’s 243 seats will go to the polls in the first of six phases — spread over a month — on October 21.
These areas are of great interest for all parties as they comprise pockets of the intelligentsia, an even spread of most castes, a high proportion of minorities and economically backward classes (EBCs) as well as a large number of people who had been victims of lopsided development and recurrent floods.
Interestingly, this will be the only phase where two of the state’s leading political castes, the Bhumihars and Kurmis, would be under-represented or too marginal to play a role in the overall outcome.
These 47 constituencies might see a Congress revival, testing the mettle of the party’s old guard and the rising generation of Rahul Gandhi’s lieutenants. They would also see a direct conflict between the leading Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the voting strength of EBCs, for which the Nitish Kumar-led NDA regime claims to have done immense work.
The issue of the post-Kosi flood management, rehabilitation of the displaced, the pending railway project in Madhepura, the mood of the leading caste of Kosi-Yadavs and the Pachpaniya castes towards reforms.
The star power of Ranjit Ranjan and Lovely Anand on the one side and Shahnawaz and Taslimuddin on the other will be other highlights of the elections here. In addition to all this, people will see what impact Pappu Yadav and Anand Mohan create from jail.
The area — weak in infrastructure and lagging behind on the health and educational fronts — would also liven up the development debate.
The parties, which get the caste combinations in nominations right in this first phase arc spanning nine of Bihar’s 38
districts, will be the ones to secure a very crucial lead. Delimitation would play a part in disturbing the assiduously nurtured caste-community equations through generations, though.