Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Highly educated professionals throw their hats in the ring
They have many attributes in common -- have similar backgrounds and are eager to test the rough and tumble of Bihar politics during the upcoming three-phase elections, which will be held on October 28, November 3 and 7Updated: Oct 14, 2020, 17:04 IST
Manish Barriarr (44), an alumnus of the prestigious Oxford University (OU), has thrown his hat in poll-bound Bihar’s electoral ring.
He is pitted against Pushpam Priya Chaudhary, an alumnus of the London School of Economics (LSE), in Patna’s Bankipur assembly constituency.
The duo — erudite and suave — has many attributes in common with several other candidates, who have similar backgrounds and are eager to test the rough and tumble of Bihar politics during the upcoming three-phase elections, which will be held on October 28, November 3 and 7.
A former financial adviser to a bank, a textiles designer, a former head of a human resources (HR) department and a Commonwealth Games shooting gold medallist are among some multifaceted wannabe politicians, who are in the electoral fray, and are trying to buck the electoral trend sullied by the usual suspects.
Though Barriarr considers himself to be a late entrant to politics, he is clear about his lofty goals. He feels it is payback time for him and wants his native state to benefit from his international expertise in the field of education and organisational leadership.
“My priorities will be to improve education, work on industrialisation as they go hand-in-hand to generate more employment opportunities. Town planning is another area I want to focus on. Patna is a strange state capital, as it has no sense of town planning,” he says.
He has nurtured his political dream on the back of an initial investment of Rs 25,000, which his students and well-wishers have raised for him through crowdfunding.
“I doubt if the fund-raising will touch the Rs 1 lakh mark, even though I could have done with a little more money,” he says candidly.
Barriarr is juggling a dual role amid the electoral heat that is tipped to reach a feverish pitch soon, despite the unprecedented coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak. He is taking his regular online classes in the morning before hitting the campaign trail through a door-to-door canvassing.
Amritesh Kumar, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Kozhikode, and Manjeet Singh, who had passed out of Delhi School of Economics (DSE), are his two bosom friends among a couple of others who accompany him on his campaign trail.
In Bihar’s caste-ridden society, where people are known to vote on caste and religious lines, Barriarr is a glorious exception to the ubiquitous electoral practice. He hates caste politics, as he tries to inspire masses to look beyond the obvious.
Barriarr hails from an ordinary middle class family. His father Binod Kumar is a lawyer at the Patna high court (HC) and mother, Usha, a homemaker.
His wife Asha is a Delhi University (DU) graduate, who had practised at the Supreme Court (SC) until she decided to come back and settle down in Patna in 2001. Asha is attached to some of the educational institutes in Patna as a guest faculty.
The couple has a son, Akshat, a Grade X student at Patna’s Delhi Public School (DPS).
Barriar, who hails from Patna, went to St Karen’s, in its earlier non-Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) avatar and had completed his secondary education from a vernacular medium school in Phulwarisharif in 1990.
He had pursued his bachelor’s in science (B.Sc) degree from Patna’s AN College in 1996. The same year, he cracked the Common Admission Test (CAT) and had made the grade at IIM Indore and Kozhikode and also Pune’s Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM).
However, he chose the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) in New Delhi, which is one of the leading institutions in Asia for international business.
Upon completion of the course, he had a brief three-month stint at an American multinational company (MNC) following which he joined as a manager in the Projects and Engineering Corporation Limited under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
However, Patna beckoned him, more so because of his filial responsibility towards his parents, and his passion for teaching prompted him to quit the Central government after two years.
He took to teaching mathematics and started preparing CAT aspirants. Simultaneously, he also started teaching finance and leadership as a guest faculty in some of the Patna-based institutes before joining the Institute of Management Studies (IMS) as a full-time member of the faculty.
“I had cracked the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) earlier and got calls from foreign universities, but could not join the courses due to financial constraints until last year, when I got a scholarship and completed a one-year organisational leadership programme from the OU,” he recounts.
“Manish (Barriarr) is a whiff of fresh air in politics. We want more people like him to come forward and become lawmakers,” says Amitabh Sohan, a voter in his constituency.
Several other versatile wannabe lawmakers are also trying their luck at the hustings.
Nikhil Mandal (45) the grandson of BP Mandal of the Mandal Commission fame, is one of them. Nikhil, who holds a postgraduate degree in law, had worked in the corporate sector and rose to the rank of the financial adviser in a private bank.
Later, he had practiced at the Patna HC. The ruling Janata Dal (United) has nominated him as its candidate from the Madhepura assembly seat.
Shalini Mishra (42), who holds a master’s in business administration (MBA) degree and considers marketing and advertising as her field of expertise, had worked at Faridabad, Haryana, and rose to become the HR head of an electronics firm.
She is the JD(U)’s candidate from the Kesari assembly seat in East Champaran district.
Shreyasi Singh (29), a Commonwealth Games gold medallist in shooting, had graduated from DU’s Hansraj College and pursued her MBA from a private university.
She is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s candidate from the Jamui assembly seat.
Chetan Anand, also in his 20s, did industrial and textile designing from an institute in Pune. He will contest from the Sheohar assembly seat on a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ticket.
Kumar Ashutosh alias Anirudh Singh (26) is an independent candidate from Ara in north Bihar. He holds a bachelors in business administration (BBA) degree from HD Jain College, Ara, and is pursuing post-graduation degree in public administration from the Veer Kuer Singh University (VKSU) in his native district.
Singh is the president of the students’ union in VKSU and is hoping to graduate to the 243-member Bihar legislative assembly.
These aspiring candidates of all hues and cutting across party lines are a welcome relief for Bihar politics, which has been bedevilled by money and muscle power through the years.
Traditionally, many politicians had longer criminal antecedents than their educational qualifications.
Will these candidates, who are high on hopes and ideals but low on electoral resources, make the cut on the Judgement Day on November 10, when the results will be announced?
Perhaps, the winds of electoral change will blow in Bihar, if voters can rise above their petty caste and religious considerations.