Patna Ahmad Hussan, 72, is busy reading an Urdu newspaper outside his house adjacent to the main road in Pandaul, 10 kms from Madhubani town. He has three sons, and all work in Mumbai for a living and sending something back home for their families.Asked about the election and Hussan immediately responds, “Here, the contest will be between the BJP and Shakeel sahib. This is what people have been saying, though earlier there were talks about Ali Ashraf Fatmi also.”It’s clear that the message of Shakeel Ahmad’s arrival has reached Muslims faster than many would expect and that could be bad news for the Grand Alliance (GA) candidate Badri Purbe of the VIP.Hafeez Khatook, 50, chips in out of curiosity to know if any government official was noting down something for subsidy. “I got Rs 12,000 to build a toilet, but the wait for house is still on,” she says. Her husband and three sons work in Delhi.Asked about her preference, she says it will not be her individual choice. “What I have heard is that people will go for lantern this time. Let’s see.”In Madhubani, five-term MP and former union minister Hukumdev Narayan Yadav’s son Ashok Yadav, himself a three-term MLA from Keoti in Darbhanga, is the NDA nominee. In the GA seat adjustment, VIP candidate Badri Purve, a businessman from Darbhanga, got the opportunity to contest, but it triggered a revolt in both RJD and Congress.With four-term Darbhanga MP Ali Ashraf Fatmi also jumping in the fray on the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after resigning from the RJD, Madhubani seat has thoroughly exposed the chinks in the GA. With 22 candidates having filed their nominations, including three who were with the GA till a few days ago, BJP is smiling.Far away in village Simri, Devkant Mishra, 65, says Fatmi and Shakeel in the fray could make it easier for Ashok Yadav to win with a margin even bigger than his father. “We knew something like this will happen after news spread about money play in ticket to the VIP candidate Purve. Even otherwise, BJP candidate would have won, but now it will get easier due to division of votes,” he says.Dev Narayan Paswan, 52, and Panchan Sada, 53, relaxing under the shade of a tree in village Misrauli, were candid that their vote would go to the BJP. “Caste will not work. Development will. What we have experienced will determine our vote. If we do not vote for those who have given us benefit, why will they think of us,” they said.Shakeel Ahmad, however, is confident that he will sail through. “If I don’t fight, BJP will have an easy victory. I am fighting to stop BJP and I am getting support,” he said.The growing commotion in the Opposition ranks, however, has brought cheers for BJP supporters. “When the GA could not yet decide on one candidate in a constituency, imagine how they would decide a new PM. We will go for Modi’s candidate, as he is alone against a whole lot,” said BJP supporter Savesh Thakur at Madhubani town.Others belive Hukumdev Narayan Yadav was lucky. “He is very lucky. Madhubani still awaits development, but he kept winning due to Narendra Modi factor. Now, his son may win not because people view him as the best choice, but just because of too many cooks ready to spoil broth for GA,” says Pankaj Kumar, whose family’s restaurant business is in the main town.