Perched on the eastern tip of Bihar bordering West Bengal, Kishanganj is a place where the minority is the majority. It has a population of more than 70% Muslims.
Considering the trend, it was not surprising when the locals came out in the open and lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said he was spreading communal disharmony.
The anti-Modi wave in Kishanganj is quite evident.
Sipping on a cup of tea, 70-year-old Ashfaq Rafiq said, “I have been living here for over 90 years, I have seen Hindus, Muslims live peacefully. But I have never seen such saffron agression before.”
Sabir Khan, a tea seller echoed the same. “If we vote BJP to power here, we will lose our freedom.”
However, the small group seemed divided between Nitish Kumar and Owaisi. Most believe that with Owaisi’s entry in the Seemanchal politics, the game could change.
Before Owaisi, the region would mostly vote for JD(U), RJD and Congress. When election was first announced in July, Owaisi was even termed as Modi’s agent who has been sent to cut the Mahagathbandhan vote-share.
However, the effect of Owaisi’s sensational entry seemed to have little effect on first-time voters. “What work will Owaisi do for us sitting that far? The state has developed under Nitish Kumar. Why not give him another term so that he can do the state more good?” said Kaif Alam, 19, a student of Marwari College.
His friend Shabina added, “The textbooks that you see are all given by Nitish Kumar. Bihar is not a Bimaru state anymore. From my village, Kutani, most girls are enrolled in schools.”
However, Ruby Khatoon, Urdu teacher of the college, feels neglected in the campaigning. “Big leaders extensively campaigned in most parts of Bihar. We were left out of the glitz. Even today, Laluji will address a rally in Purnia, nobody bothered to visit us much this time.”
At a cycle pump shop, Iqbal Imam raised a doubt. “In our village, we have received voters’ slips from the Grand Alliance and the AIMIM. It seems as if BJP doesn’t even want us to vote. Hence, they have avoided a whole village altogether.”
It seems that the Dadri lynching and Faridabad Dalit killings have played a big role in turning the wave against Modi in this part of Bihar. But how many votes can the AIMIM snatch from the Grand Alliance pocket borough will be a thing to see in the last phase of balloting on November 5.