Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Meira Kumar on shaky ground in family bastion Sasaram
Facing stiff resistance from a resurgent BJP, Congress’s Meira Kumar, seeking a third term in Parliament, is finding herself on a sticky wicket in her ancestral constituency represented by her and her father (late) Jagjivan Ram, the Congress veteran and deputy prime minister who won the seat for a record nine times.
Between them, the father-daughter duo have represented the constituency 11 times.
This time, Kumar, a former Lok Sabha Speaker is facing heat not only from BJP’S Chhedi Paswan, the sitting MP, but also from her own party workers.
“On the development front, the father and daughter have miserably failed,” says senior Congress leader Sinhasan Singh alias Bhola Singh, 50. Singh, who has served party on various posts, said, “Every time you can’t go to the people with same rhetoric.” He alleged that Kumar and her father, despite holding top positions in the party and the government, failed bring about any perceptible change in the area.
Another Congress leader, requesting anonymity, blamed Kumar and her father for remaining apathetic towards Sasaram’s development. “We are still forced to go to Varanasi or Delhi for treatment as they never bothered to open a good hospital. We neither have an engineering college nor a medical college. There is no central school even.”
“They never thought of any food processing unit despite the fact the area is known as Granary of Bihar,” he said.
Industries like Dalmia Group’s at Dehri-on-sone and Banjari and Amjhor cement factories were closed down years back, leaving thousands of workers redundant.
“And Kumar and her father remained mute spectators,” Congress leader Bhola Singh alleged.
Another party man accompanying Singh said that the father-daughter duo also failed to place the area on the country’s tourism map despite its rich history and heritage.
“It was also important in medieval age and freedom struggle. It was the birth place of great Afghan ruler Sher Shah. More recently, it was associated with freedom fighters Veer Kuwanr Singh and Nishan Singh who took part in 1857 struggle for independence,” the man said.
“The constituency is starved of development and nothing perceptible in education and farming sectors has been achieved,” BJP leader Sujit Singh said. “Such issues will go against the family that ruled for over five decades.”
Santosh Mishra, district Congress president, Rohtas, conceded there was no agro-based industry in the constituency. But he praised Kumar’s efforts for getting a clearance for Durgawati reservoir project from the empowered committee of the Supreme Court.
Among her other works, Mishra said, was the construction NH 2C from Dehri to Yadunathpur extended to Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, construction of thousands of kilometers of interlinking roads, Basahin bridge, etc.
A central university was also proposed at Sasaram through her efforts but it was shifted to Gaya as the state government did not provide the required 100 acres of land for its construction. Airport project at Shivasagar also met the same fate.
However, local political observers say it was no longer easy to catch the imagination of Muslims and caste votes to win the seat.
A university professor, Bagishwari Prasad Dwivedi, said, “The time is over when leaders used to reap dividends on their family’s legacy.”