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Chandwa recalls association with Babuji and Meira, call Nitish spoilsport

Villagers at Chandwa, birthplace of Jagjiwan Ram, regret that the son of the soil could not become the Prime Minister. They now believe that his daughter Meira Kumar has a chance to become the President.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2017 13:20 IST
Prasun K Mishra and  Prashant Ranjan
Prasun K Mishra and Prashant Ranjan
Hindustan Times, Chandwa (Ara)
Chandwa,Jagjiwan Ram,Meira Kumar
The ancestral house of Meira Kumar at Chandwa village near Ara in Bihar’s Bhojpur district. (Suraj Ram/HT photo)

People at Chandwa, the birthplace of former deputy prime minister Jagjiwan Ram, have one regret. The son of the soil and Dalit icon could not become the country’s Prime Minister.

With the Congress-led Opposition parties choosing his daughter Meira Kumar to contest against NDA candidate and former Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind in the upcoming presidential poll, they are now hopeful that with little luck she could occupy the country’s top constitutional post. However, they accuse Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar of playing spoilsport by supporting “outsider” Kovind against Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha speaker and a Bihari.

The people of the village, located on the outskirts of Bhojpur district headquarters Ara and 55 kms west of Patna, fondly speak of their association with Ram’s family.

The samadhi (memorial) of Jagajiwan Ram at Chandwa. ( Suraj Ram/HT photo )

“I know Babuji (as Ram is fondly called) and Meira behan (sister) from the day I came to village as 16-year-old bride,” said social worker and Chandwa’s former ward councillor Sharda Devi, 64, in chaste Bhojpuri, the local dialect. “Meiraji makes it a point to visit the village on July 7, death anniversary of Ram. During her visit, she inquires about the welfare of our family. If she is elected President, it will be a great day for our village,” she added.

Meira ji had last visited Chandwa with her husband Manjul Kumar, son Anshul and two daughters on July 7, 2016 and stayed there for two days, she said.

Shakuntala Devi, 55, a mahadalit who lives in the neighbourhood of Kumar’s ancestral house, remembers the soft spoken former Lok Sabha speaker for her caring nature. She, however, rued that “due to his Dalit background” Babuji could not become the Prime Minister. “We will forget the pain if Meira Ji is elected President,” she said.

Shridhar Tiwary, who recently completed his PhD from Veer Kunwar Singh University, Ara, credits “Babuji and Meiraji” for the bringing development to Chandwa. “Babuji gifted his land for Jagjiwan College at Chandwa. He was also instrumental in setting up the housing board colony, besides getting piped water supply to the village. Meira ji contributed to the expansion of the college building and construction of a playground as well as all-weather roads in the village. People of Chandwa going to Delhi for treatment or any other purpose don’t need to worry for accommodation in the national capital. Earlier, all arrangements for their stay were made by Babuji. Now Meiraji looks after their accommodation and other needs,” Tiwary said.

“It will be a great honour for the family if Meira wins the election,” said Suraj Kumar, who looks after her two-storied ancestral house in the village. Suraj Kumar is the grandson of Ram’s brother Sant Lal Ram.

Former vice chairman of Ara municipal corporation Shailendra Kumar, 36, is angry with chief minister for Kovind. “Nitishji ka chehara benakab ho gaya hai (Nitish stands exposed),” said Shailendra Kumar, promising Mahadali leader of the village. “The Dalits of Bihar will give him a befitting reply at an appropriate time for ignoring the daughter of the state and supporting an outsider,” he added.

First Published: Jun 24, 2017 10:36 IST