In Jamui, fight is between newbie and heavyweights
The battle lines have been drawn in Jamui, the citadel of Maoists, for the 10 April Lok Sabha election. Out of total 11 candidates in the fray, the main fight seems to be between Bihar assembly speaker Uday Narain Choudhary, Chirag Paswan, the son of Ramvilas Paswan and RJD’s Sudhanshu Shekhar Bhaskar.
The battle for ballot for this seat is between two old war horses and a debutant politician, who shakes hand instead of touching feet of senior leaders. Chirag’s body language clearly conveys the message that he is the leader of youngistaan. Ramvilas Paswan’s old ally Lalu Prasad has pitted Sudhanshu Shekhar Bhaskar, a Dalit leader of Das community, to puncture the Modi wave. In total, there are above 15 lakh voters in the Jamui Lok Sabha constituency.
Out of the six assembly seats — Tarapur, Sheikhpura, Sikandara, Jamui, Jhajha and Chakai – under this Lok Sabha constituency, five assembly seats are in the kitty of JD(U), while one Chakai seat is represented by JMM. The JD(U) had won five seats during 2010 assembly polls as they had contested in alliance with BJP. Since the ruling party of the state is in no alliance with the saffron party and is fighting it alone, it is going to be a herculean task for Bihar assembly speaker to win the seat.
Bhudeo Choudhary, the sitting JD(U) MP from Jamui, who had won the seat in 2009 securing 1,78,560 votes trouncing the RJD nominee, Shyam Rajak, was denied ticket this time. Lalu confidant Shyam Rajak is also no more with RJD as he had switched his political gear in 2010 assembly polls to be the pivot of Nitish brigade.
The dispute between Narendra Singh, the agriculture minister in Bihar cabinet, and state chief minister Nitish Kumar over ticket distribution, is set to cost the party dearly. The area is abuzz with reports that Narendra Singh will not support ‘unwanted’ candidate — Uday Narain Choudhary.
Escalating his outburst against Bihar CM, recently Singh had compared Choudhary with Naxals, while sharing the dais with Nitish Kumar at a public rally. While cautioning Kumar against ‘preachers’, he had said, ‘I am telling you, if you don’t open your eyes, don’t blame me later when Choudhary suffers humiliating defeat in the coming Lok Sabha elections.’
Continuing his tirade, the agriculture minister, who has been in trouble before because of his firebrand approach, had said that if he chose to go against the party, his candidate would not only lose the election, he would also forfeit his security deposit.
Citing the recent outburst of Singh against Kumar, Upendra Prasad, a political expert, said, ‘Votes of Rajput community will change the last minute game plan in the area. If Narendra Singh ‘supports’ RJD just to sabotage his party candidate, the victory of Lalu’s nominee will be certain.’
He further added, ‘The voting pattern shows that both, Rajputs and Kushwahas, follow the ‘opportunistic’ pattern of voting. There is a sizeable number of Rajputs and Kushwahas in the area to decide the fate of any candidate.’
Political experts say that even though the chances of RJD nominee Sudhanshu Shekhar Bhaskar’s winning this seat is dependent on the support of Narendra Singh, the RJD has enough number of votes to emerge victorious thwarting the game plan of both JD(U) and LJP-BJP alliance.
‘An important factor which is going in favour of RJD is his Das community. The total electorates of Das community in the Lok Sabha constituency are about one lakh and they will unanimously cast their votes in favour of Sudhanshu Shekhar only. Apart from Das community, the old vote-bank of RJD such as Yadavs, Muslims and OBCs will also stand up in favour of Lalu,’ said Rameshwar Yadav, who lives in Chakai.
Riding on the Modi wave across the country, Paswan is also hoping to light up his political chirag to carry forward his legacy. With RJD candidate in the fray to puncture the Modi wave, the battle is set to be very fierce for Chirag. The electorates of the area are divided into Dalits and Mahadalits. With Modi being the face of NDA, the Mahadalit vote is set to slip away from LJP to JD(U) and RJD. It is expected that LJP will get its own cadre vote, the Paswans, as well as that of the BJP. The association of Paswan with BJP is not letting Muslims to ‘touch’ the Lotus, paving the way for Muslims to choose either JD (U) or RJD.
The main infrastructure problem in the constituency is poor drinking water supply system. The main water tower near the Sadar hospital here remains a showpiece. The demand for grant of subdivisional status to Jhajha has not been fulfilled yet, even though Chandra Shekhar Singh of Jamui had become the chief minister some decades back while Tripurari Prasad Singh had held the post of assembly speaker.