Battle for Nawada remains unpredictable as always

Nawada, a place of historical imminence, is one among the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar and abuzz with political happenings during India’s largest democratic festival. The parliamentary constituency had hit the headlines soon after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had announced the candidature of Giriraj Singh. Singh, who served the Cabinet of Bihar as animal husbandry minister from 2010 to 2013, was reluctant to contest from here as there was only one Yadav candidate (Rajballabh Yadav of RJD) in the poll ring during the time of his nomination. The moment he learnt that JD (U) is also going to pit a Yadav candidate, he accepted his candidature and vowed to carry forward the winning spree of the party.

With JD(U) candidate Kaushal Yadav, the party’s sitting MLA from Gobindpur assembly seat, in the fray, the battle is set to be a triangular and more fierce. RJD has pitted Rajballabh Yadav, the former MLA of Nawada, who  is banking upon RJD’s old vote-bank – Muslims and Yadavs. All of the three candidates are pulling all the strings to re-correct the arithmetic of votes. To get elected from here has become the matter of pride for all the three. The BJP would like to continue the winning spree as in the 2009, Bhola Singh had won this seat. JD (U) would like to win the seat to downsize its former ally BJP. Apart from these, RJD is facing the challenge to revive its old vote bank.

In support of their candidates, the political honchos of every party have addressed rallies in Nawada. On Wednesday, the city witnessed mammoth rallies of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and state chief minister Nitish Kumar.

In an effort to garner the support of Yadavs for his blue-eyed candidate Giriraj Singh, Modi played his Dwarka link card. Dwarka is considered as the Mecca for Yadavs. Claiming to have close links with ‘Yaduvanshis, the support base of Lalu Prasad, Modi said, ‘Coming from Dwarka in Gujarat I have close links with Yaduvanshis (the Yadav caste).’

Political experts say that with two Yadavs in fray, the seat is somehow safe for BJP. Going by the voting pattern, the BJP may get some OBC votes too apart from its cadre-based votes. The votes of Yadavs and Muslims would be divided among RJD and JD (U), while Koeris and SCs would vote for saffron party as the party is contesting the polls in alliance with Upendra Kushwaha and Ramvilas Paswan.

On the other side, both Rajballabh Yadav and Kaushal Yadav face the specter of the 2009 Lok Sabha scenario, when both had contested and only managed to split the Yadav and Muslim votes between them enabling Bhola Singh to emerge as the winner with a comparatively small margin of 34,000 votes over co-caste opponent LJP’s Veena Devi (wife of strongman Suraj Bhan Singh and present Munger Lok Sabha seat candidate). Kaushal in year 2009 had contested as an Independent while Rajballabh had contested on RJD ticket. The energy of both these contestants is directed more in defeating each other than winning the election.

Talking not much about the results of the last LS poll, former deputy chairman of Nawada Zila Parishad Meena Yadav said, ‘ During 10 April poll, the Yadavs of Nawada will unanimously vote for RJD candidate Rajballabh Yadav only’.

‘Not only Yadavs, even Muslims and OBC voters would also support RJD this time and Rajballabh will win with huge margin, Meena Yadav said over phone. Blaming both BJP and JD (U) for promoting anti-Muslim and anti-Yadav activities in the area, the former deputy chairman said, ‘Both the parties have befooled the community. Poornima Yadav, the local JD (U) MLA and wife of Kaushal Yadav, has not done anything for the upliftment of the community. They appear only during elections.’

Nullifying all these charges, Sabir Khan, JD (U) general secretary, said, ‘Kaushal has done a lot for the community. The Muslims will vote for him keeping in mind the development works of Nitish Kumar. On the contrary, he acknowledges the fact that about 25 per cent of Muslims of the area will vote for RJD nominee Rajballabh Yadav.

However, Lalu Prasad’s jail stint in the fodder scam and his debarment from contesting elections for 6 years, appears to be working in Rajballabh’s favour as Lalu has been relentless in accusing both the JD (U) as well as the BJP of hatching a conspiracy in sending him to jail. The major chunk of the 2.8 lakh Yadav voters, the second largest vote-bank, appears to have decided to go along with the RJD in order to ‘avenge’ Lalu’s humiliation.

For the Muslim community voters numbering around 1.1 lakh, the BJP remains virtually ‘untouchable’ because of 2002 Gujarat riots. However, their dilemma is who to vote for, the RJD or the JD (U)? Atiq Khan, a businessman  from Nawada town, said that both Rajballabh and Kaushal have their fair share of Muslim supporters but the minority community is keenly watching the development and would vote for JD (U) if it has the edge, or else vote for the RJD. Several persons from the minority community supported Atiq Khan’s point.
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