Lok Sabha Elections 2019: In Bihar, farm anger, migration likely to shape outcome in sixth phase
In Bihar, all seats where voting is being held on May 12 in the sixth phase, face an agricultural crisis and widespread migration of the youth.Updated: May 12, 2019 07:37 IST
Stakes are high for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar, as out of the eight seats going to polls in the sixth phase, the party had won seven while its alliance partner, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), had won one.
Bihar has already voted for 24 seats out of 40 in the previous five phases.
Vaishali and Purvi Champaran have the maximum number of candidates in a seat, 22 each. While Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP had won Vaishali in 2014, the BJP had won the rest, including Paschim Champaran, Siwan, and Maharajganj among others.
All seats face an agricultural crisis and widespread migration of the youth. Sugarcane is the main source of income for farmers in Maharajganj, Gopalganj, Purbi and Paschimi Champaran, but the closed sugar mills that dot the region, and pending arrears of sugarcane growers have compounded the problem for locals. This phase will also test the popularity of the Janata Dal (United), which returned to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) fold in 2017, when chief minister Nitish Kumar dropped out of the ‘mahagathbandhan’ with the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal.
JD (U) will contest three of these seats —all won by the BJP in 2014— and as per the seat-sharing agreement, both parties will contest on an equal number of seats, 17, while LJP will contest six.
The JD (U) is contesting from Valmikinagar, Siwan and Gopalganj, causing resentment in the the BJP. Out of the 47 assembly seats in these eight constituencies, BJP had won 17, JD (U) and LJP won 10 and one seat respectively. The RJD and Congress won 11 and 5 seats respectively.
Siwan is back in focus as the wives of local strongmen Hina Shahab (RJD) and Kavita Kumari of JD (U) are contesting. Hina is the spouse of former MP Mohammed Shahabuddin, who is currently lodged in Tihar jail. The JD (U) candidate and sitting MLA from Daroundha, Kavita Singh is wife of strongman Ajay Singh.
In Purvi Champaran, two-time winner and Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh is fighting 27-year-old Akash Kumar Singh (the opposition candidate), son of former union minister and Congress leader Akhilesh Kumar Singh.
“This a challenging round for the NDA as the prestige of both, PM and the CM, are at stake. The NDA alliance, which was banking on Nitish Kumar’s development agenda, has had to change track. Even Nitish Kumar has switched over to the issue of nationalism,” said analyst D M Diwakar of A N Sinha Institute for Social Studies.