Catching the pulse of the people in Bhagalpur, the district that recently hosted Sonia Gandhi, can give a good indicator on the direction and impact of campaigning. In fact, Narendra Modi too kicked off his campaign from neighbouring Banka district; therefore, it makes sense to re-visit both areas and try and see what people feel about the campaigning.
Bhagalpur has traditionally been a communally sensitive area with four major communities living here: Yadav, Kurmi, Gangota and Muslim.
During the last Assembly polls held in 2010, Bhagalpur seat was won by Ashwini Kumar Choubey of BJP who defeated Congress candidate Ajeet Sharma by 11,060 votes and therefore represents significant influence in the area. Ashwini Choubey is also the Lok Sabha MP from Buxar. However, during the last Lok Sabha Polls in 2014, the seat was won by RJD candidate Shailesh Kumar, also known as Bulo Mandal, who defeated BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain.
This becomes interesting since in 2010 BJP’s Ashwini Choubey won the assembly seat, this time around he is vacating the seat in favour of his son, Arijit Shaswat Choubey, BJP. But 2014 presented a different scenario. The fight was between RJD’s Bulo Mandal, who belongs to the Gangota community and had the support of the Yadav and Kurmi communities, in his fight against Shahnawaz Hussain, who split the Muslim vote, being a member of the BJP.
But in 2015, the Muslim community has got together with the Yadav, Kurmi and Gangota communities to take the fight up against BJP’s Arijit Choubey. The present scenario is vastly different from 2010 when his father won the Assembly seat. The Modi wave didn’t work here in 2014 for the Lok Sabha seat, since Shahnawaz lost the fight; therefore, Modi’s impact in the district will be even less this time. So the BJP has an uphill task in Bhagalpur, where old caste politics still seem to rule and favour the Grand Alliance.
Banka is where Narendra Modi made his first big speech after returning from the US and the problem for the BJP is that Banka is also likely to follow similar pattern of voting where the Yadav, Kurmi, Gangota communities will come together with the Muslim community, to vote against the BJP. Though not in majority, the upper castes will remain with the BJP but that may not be enough.
During the 2010 Assembly polls, Banka seat was won by RJD’s Javed Iqbal Ansari who narrowly beat BJP’s Ram Narayan Mandal by 2410 votes. On similar lines, the 2010 Lok Sabha seat went to RJD’s JPN Yadav, who is a two time MP and holds considerable influence in the area.
As of now, the general feeling seems to favour the Grand Alliance. But Narendra Modi’s personal charisma is also winning local hearts that cut across party lines. The big question is can BJP’s development agenda get past old caste politics, is something that remains to be seen.
Lalu Yadav’s beef-eating remark raises a storm
Reacting to the unfortunate murder of a Muslim ostensibly for eating beef in Dadri, UP, Lalu Prasad Yadav said that everyone had the right to eat anything and that even Hindus eat beef. This remark has given a handle to the opposition and right wing Hindu groups who have reacted sharply to this remark and harsh words have come out against Lalu Yadav.
The remark has made many in his own alliance uncomfortable and Lalu does sound increasingly isolated on this one. But dogged fighter that he is, he plans to continue to raise his voice against apparent attempts to communalise the situation that is likely to have some impact on the Bihar polls.
EC asks political parties to submit their manifestos
On Friday, the EC office issued a Supplementary Press Note asking all political parties to submit their respective manifestos in hard and soft copies to the Commission, at the earliest. The statement was a follow-up to a similar letter issued in April and followed the Supreme Court order given earlier in July 2013. The SC, while agreeing that political parties had to make promises to voters, it also recognised the need to ensure a level playing field for all parties and in ensuring that polls were held in a free and fair manner, without unfair inducements.
The measure is to keep a check on what political parties promise during elections although the EC office does not have any statutory powers to enforce any non-compliance of promises made by parties’ post-polls.
Politician in focus: Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, BJP (Born 17 November 1939)
Hukumdev Narayan Yadav is the sitting MP from Madhubani, Bihar in the 16th Lok Sabha. He was born in Bijuli, a part of Darbhanga District, in the house of Rajgir Yadav and Champa Devi.
HN Yadav completed his graduation in Political Science and Economics from Chandradhari Mahavidyalaya in Darbhanga and Bihar University in Muzzafarpur.
He first entered politics in 1960 when he became Gram Pradhan of Bijuli the same year, which he served for two terms. He later got elected as the Member to the Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1967 and has since been elected for a total three terms. He got elected as MP for the first time in 1977 to the 6th Lok Sabha and has served as the MP for a total of five terms. He has served as the Chief Whip and Deputy Leader of Rajya Sabha on separate occasions and as the Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Surface Transport, and Shipping at various times. He continues to remain active in politics.
Constituency in focus: Patna Sahib
Patna, the capital city of Bihar, was divided into two Lok Sabha seats in 2008 – Patliputra and Patna Sahib.
Patna Sahib is known for Patna Sahib Gurudwara, which is one of the important holy places for the Sikh community as the tenth Sikh Guru Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji was born here. Patna Sahib has five Assembly seats besides Patna Sahib itself. The sitting MP is Shatrughan Sinha, BJP, who has won two consecutive terms from the same constituency. As per Census 2011, the total population of Patna district is 58,38,465 of which 30,78,512 are males and 27,59,953 are females.
2010 Assembly Election Results
- Winner in 2010 Assembly Poll: Nand Kishore Yadav, BJP
- Margin of win: 65,337; 48.65% of total valid votes
- Runner-up: Parvej Ahmad, INC
- Male voters: 83,083; Female voters: 51,218; Total: 134,301
- Polling %: 45.86
- Male Candidates who contested: 15; Female Candidates: 0
- Polling stations: 289
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