The Balli-Bajpur road will be the main poll issue, assert many in the constituency.
Congress candidate Yashpal Arya is sitting pretty in the newly reserved Bajpur assembly constituency that falls between Gadarpur and Ramnagar constituencies. Literate voters here believe that Arya being Congress heavyweight will work for the development of the area. They are well settled with the idea that their constituency will hog limelight as Arya is bound to get bigger responsibility if the Congress comes to power.
State Congress president has the benefit of his political stature vis-à-vis his opponent and comparatively weaker BJP nominee Rajesh Kumar. Arya is an outsider but the thought never apparently bothered the voters here. Though Bajpur is relatively underdeveloped as compared to the nearby Rudrapur and Ramnagar constituencies, this part of Tarai region has high yielding fields. The Sikh farmers who employ Buxa tribals and SC community members as labourers in their fields mostly control the land holdings.
It’s significant that almost 48% of the total 1.10 lakh voters in Bajpur belong to SC, ST and Sikh communities while 5% each come from Rajput and Brahmin communities and 17% are Muslim voters. Sainis and OBCs constitute 10% and one per cent of the voters in Bajpur are Jats. Sikh and Punjabi voters of Bajpur are mainly concentrated along nearly 15 kilometres pathetic stretch of Balli-Bajpur Road coming from Ramnagar direction. So are the Buxa tribal men whose main source of economy is working as labourers in the fields of Sikh farmers. For Sikh farmers and other local traders utterly ruptured Balli-Bajpur Road is the main issue, which the BJP government and its sitting MLA Arvind Pandey failed to rebuild. They allege that BJP MLA was deliberately indifferent towards rebuilding the road. “Pathetic condition of this road can be imagined from the fact that even SUVs run here at the speed of not more than 10 kilometres per hour. We are living dust and eating dust. You can see for yourself how slow tractors are moving on this road, what to talk of passenger vehicles,” said Major Singh, a trader and Pradhan of Banna Khneda village that aligns with Balli-Bajpur Road.
Buxas are also not happy with the BJP government for the latter did not help a girl of their community who was first run over by a car owner of another community and later beaten up heavily rendering the girl handicapped. “When members of Buxa community tried to deal with the car owner, police arrested them and put them behind the bars. Our men were ill-treated by the police and local administration turned a spectator,” said Kunwar Singh a Buxa member from Banna Kheda village. Kunwar was echoed by his nephew Mahinder Singh and other family members who wanted the police to release the arrested persons as they were innocent. They also complained of erratic mid-day meal service to the students.
On the other hand, Yashpal Arya’s main opponent, BJP Candidate Rajesh Kumar, has small presence in this part of the constituency.