Lok Sabha elections 2019: Amid caste cacophony in Jehanabad, talks of development become gradually muted
Ramdhani Sharma of Kurtha village, along with other villagers are sitting on a podium built under a peepal tree, playing cards. The buzz of elections is missing this time.Updated: May 17, 2019 13:57 IST
The wheat and pulse crops have just been harvested and the lands are clean and free, lying idle in absence of any agricultural activity. So are the farmers, free whiling away their time, apprehending a good rainfall this monsoon.
Ramdhani Sharma of Kurtha village, along with other villagers are sitting on a podium built under a peepal tree, playing cards. The buzz of elections is missing this time.
“Saheb, kya election ki baat karein, yahan jaat se bada koi mudda nahin hai,” (The meaning of election here is caste and nothing beyond that). Sharma’s sense of cynicism summarises the issue of election on the land, which was once a breeding ground for Naxalism.
Jehanabad, about 50 kms away from Patna, could be the only constituency out of 40 in Bihar, where the caste equation has overshadowed the development issues in the most apparent way.
Contrary to the perception that the constituency could be heading for a triangular fight among Surendra Prasad Yadav of RJD, Chandeshwar Prasad of JD (U) and Arun Kumar of Rashtriya Samta Party (Secular), it could be a straight fight between RJD and JD(U). Traditionally the seat belonged to either Yadav or Bhumihar, but the NDA fielding a Chandravanshi candidate of JD(U) has totally changed the equation this time.
Arun Kumar, a Bhumihar, is the sitting MP of Jehanabad.
He had won in 2014 on a Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) ticket. RLSP was then a part of the NDA.
After Kumar fell out with RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha, he is trying his luck on a Rashtriya Samta Party (Secular) ticket.
“Arun babu has switched many parties, so he has lost trust of his caste men,” said Dinesh Chaudhary of Kharoj village, adding this was perhaps for the first time that a Bhumihar won’t be taking on RJD.
He questioned that why didn’t Prime Minister Narendra Modi come to Jehanabad to campaign for JD (U)’s Chandravanshi.
“The Bhumihars are seething in anger and their votes are going to get divided,” said Gaya Singh of Kanaudi village.
RJD candidate Surendra Yadav, who lost in the 2009 and 2014 parliamentary polls, could get the advantage of getting votes from Muslims and Yadav. Besides, Yadav could divide votes of Kushwaha, Kurmi, Paswan and other backward castes.
Not to be left behind, the NDA has stepped on the gas to woo the Bhumihar voters by fielding senior BJP leader CP Thakur, Rahul Jahanabad.
Kumar, son of jailed former MLA Jagdish Sharma, Ram Jatan Sinha, who recently switched to JD(U), besides Munger candidate Rajeev Ranjan alias Lallan Singh and JD (U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar in the election pitch to campaign for JD (U) candidate Chandeshwar Prasad.
However, the success of the contestants will depend on how they are able to polarise various castes in their favour and not their capability to make promises of development.