A key voter chunk silent, no straw in the wind in Nawada
For long, the Nawada Lok Sabha constituency has a record of changing its MP.
This time too, it has two new entrants in the electoral ring, both kin of political strongmen in the area.
While BJP leader and union minister Giriraj Singh, who is the sitting MP from the constituency, has reluctantly moved to Begusarai, Lok Janshakti Party’s (LJP) greenhorn Chandan Kumar, brother of don-turned-politician Suraj Bhan Singh, will be facing off Vibha Devi, wife of Nawada strongman and former RJD MLA Raj Ballabh Prasad, who is currently in jail for raping a minor girl.
Last time, Giriraj Singh had defeated Raj Ballabh Prasad by a margin of 1.40 votes, while JD(U)’s Kaushal Yadav had fetched 1.68 lakh votes.
Although the simple poll arithmetic seems to favour the LJP, which is a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the extremely backward castes and the dalits, who also constitute a sizeable chunk of the electorate, are still maintaining a baffling silence.
“The Nawada Lok Sabha constituency has a distinct character of not repeating its sitting MP. Barring the Congress wave that swept the country after assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, the constituency has been represented by different leaders in Parliament. In the history of its 52 years of existence (Nawada was created as a separate constituency carved out of East Gaya in 1976), people of Nawada have only re-elected Kunwar Ram of the Congress in 1984,” said Surya Bali Prasad of Samas village under Warsaliganj assembly segment.
In an animated debate at a tea stall near Diwadih village on Warsaliganj-Barbigha road, Joginder Prasad Singh says it is the Barbigha assembly segment which decides the fate of candidates from Nawada. “Suraj Bhan’s wife Veena Devi could not succeed in 2009 Lok Sabha polls, as Barbigha, which is a Bhumihar-dominated constituency, refused to support her,” says Mithilesh Singh, also a local.
However, another local, Surendra Prasad, chipped in to say that people were not looking at the candidates this time and that they were rather in a mood to give another term for Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister.
A gathering of villagers at weekly market at Gobindpur, another assembly segment of Nawada, was of the opinion that the strength of extremely backwards and dalits should not be ignored before arriving at a conclusive assessment. “They are still not forthcoming, like Bhumilars, Yadav or Muslims, about their priorities,” says Dudheshar Chauhan of Simaria village.
A section of trading community is also in two minds over supporting Chandan, because of his brother’s criminal record. “But the RJD would be finding it tough to motivate electors in favour of Vibha Devi, as both RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Raj Ballabh are still behind the bars,” says Ganesh Singh of Gobindpur.
Awadh Bihari Singh of Nawada town says the fight could have turned interesting had the Congress fielded Arun Kumar, the rebel MP of RLSP from Jehanabad. “The constituency also had a dubious distinction of preferring outsiders than the local one. It has elected local leaders only twice since the Nawada constituency came into being. Surya Prakash Narayan Puri and Prem Chandra Ram were the only local leaders, who were elected in 1967 and 1991 from Nawada,” said Singh.
Giriraj Singh was also a native of Begusarai and the LJP nominee Chandan is also from Mokama. The RJD nominee is, however, a local.