Locked in a triangular fight the three stalwarts—Dr Shakeel Ahmad, Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav and Chaturanan Mishra of the Congress, BJP and CPI, respectively, are trying their best to dent each others vote bank to taste victory in Madhubani, once considered as the bastion of the Left.
Union minister of state for agriculture Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav is banking on Brahmin votes, on the basis of Atal wave and the inclusion of Maithili in Eigth Schedule, and Yadav votes, particularly Krishnaut section. Shakeel has pinned his hopes on Muslims-Yadavs, traditional Brahmin votes and most importantly the ‘Ram Vilas factor.’
Former minister Chatura Babu, as he is popularly known, is confident of getting minority and Brahmin votes in addition to cadre votes of the CPI. Of the six assembly segments under Madhubani, Benipatti, Harlakhi and Khajauli is represented by RJD and Bisfi by the Congress candidate himself while Madhubani and Jale are represented by the BJP.
While the contestants are trying to make a dent into the vote banks of others, as Brahmins, Muslims and Yadavs are present numerically in the decreasing order, the fact that Muslims vote bank, accounting for 19 per cent of the total votes, remains immune to the attempts of poaching is a matter worth reckoning, says Bimal Yadav of Ghat Bhotra even as he admits that the relatives of BJP candidate (krishnauts) might vote in his favour despite the RJD-Congress alliance in the state.
However, Anil Kumar Mishra, mukhiya of Raghunidehat panchayat, says the RJD supremo has decided to campaign intensively for the Congress candidate to stop a division in Yadav votes. Even the local leaders of the RJD are working for ensuring the victory of their alliance candidate.
But, this has also caused heartburns amongst Congressmen, particularly Brahmin leaders, who have a capacity to influence the voters if they work forcefully. Several of them are now former legislators with the emergence of RJD in the area. AICC observer for Jharkhand Prem Chandra Mishra, who was in Madhubani on a short visit, said that he has instructed his supporters to ensure the victory of party candidate.
The capacity of the former Madhubani legislator RK Mahaseth to mould the voting pattern in the favour of Dr Ahmad would also be interesting to monitor, points Pahsupati Mullick of Hanumannagar. The business community, which has a sizeable presence in Madhubani assembly segment, vote for Mahaseth during assembly but change gears in favour of BJP during Lol Sabha polls, he avers.
However, the youngest among the three candidates, Dr Shakeel is leaving nothing to chance. He is campaigning intensively amongst all sections, particularly youths, and is missing no opportunity to make the property declaration of the BJP candidate an election issue. Dr Shakeel reminds his electorate to ask the BJP candidate, who had asked for ‘one vote, one note’ in 1999, how he became a ‘crorepati’ within five years.
Although the BJP candidate has placed his hopes on reaping the dividends of the elevation of Maithili, the person associated with the movement and recently inducted in the party Tarakant Jha, who belongs to Benipatti, has not visited he area giving rise to the speculation that he is not happy.
CPI candidate Chatura Babu believes that the inclusion of Maithili in the Eighth Schedule would not be a big factor. However, his success in making inroads in the vote bank of his castemen, who account for 21 per cent of the total votes, would ultimately tilt the scales in favour of the Congress candidate in an election contested by altogether ten candidates, said Neeraj Jha.