Wasseypur, a small Muslim-dominated town in Dhanbad made famous by the Anurag Kashyap-directed film Gangs of Wasseypur, stands divided this election.
The choice is between the Congress which the town’s 70,000 voters have invariably backed, and Trinamool Congress (TMC) which is making its debut in Dhanbad, one of the last four constituencies in Jharkhand that go to polls on April 24.
Wasseypur often decides which way the 3.8 lakh minority votes in Dhanbad swings. The split in its Muslim votes augurs well for sitting MP and BJP candidate PN Singh, who faces a tough fight from the Congress.
The division in the loyalty for the Congress came after the party expelled Chandrashekhar Dubey – he won in the 2004 polls and was second in 2009 – ahead of the elections and fielded Ajay Dubey, considered a lightweight in Jharkhand politics.
Chandrashekhar Dubey’s popularity among Muslims made TMC offer him the ticket for Dhanbad. Now Wasseypur is caught between its favourite party and its favourite candidate. “We support Chandrashekhar Dubey because he cares for the people, but we feel the Congress can give tough fight to the BJP,” local resident Iqbal Qadir told HT.
Dhanbad has been a BJP stronghold since 1991 despite Muslims constituting the largest voting bloc among its 9.8 lakh voters. This is attributed to the sizeable population of Brahmins, Bhumihars and Rajputs besides Yadavs in the constituency.
Rita Varma was the BJP’s Dhanbad MP for four terms until Dubey helped Congress stage a comeback in 2004. Despite his loss in 2009, he was expected to bring the Congress back on the rails in view of Muslims galvanising to stop the saffron wave. “He would have made a difference for the Congress,” said Noman Siddiqui, a doctor.
The Congress is thus frenetically wooing Wasseypur residents, as is TMC.