Star war grips Patna Sahib; JD(U) banks on caste

Star war grips Patna Sahib; JD(U) banks on caste

Some 40 km from Patna, Bakhtiyarpur is the birthplace of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and was part of the erstwhile Barh Lok Sabha constituency, which eventually ceased to exist in 2009.

Following delimitation, Bakhtiyarpur is now an integral part of Patna Sahib, from where the BJP's Shatrughan Sinha made his Lok Sabha debut five years ago. He is in the fray again, even as his supporters are busy removing a poster of “Missing MP” put up by some unidentified persons in the interiors of this Assembly segment.

“Some disgraceful workers within the party have played mischief. Otherwise, you can check from the airport, local police station and my office in Kadamkuan how many times I visit Patna? It’s at least thrice a month,” Sinha told Deccan Herald in reply to the charge that he rarely visits his constituency.

It's a “star war” in urban areas, consisting of Patna, Digha, Bankipore, as the Congress has put up veteran Bhojpuri actor Kunal against Sinha.

Kunal, who has acted in over 130 Bhojpuri films since 1979, is married to renowned Bengali actor Arati Bhattacharya, who has worked opposite greats like Uttam Kumar.  Kunal says his father Buddhdev Singh Yadav, who had earlier been a minister in the Jagannath Mishra regime in late 80s, had been a true Congressman, and he (Kunal) was only trying to carry forward the legacy.

“It’s battle between a prince and a pauper,” said Kunal, in an apparent reference to Sinha as a prince remains disconnected from the people. “I, on the other hand, am representing the Congress, the RJD and the NCP, and intend to get votes from the traditional voters of these parties,” he said, adding that he would also get votes from Bengalis, who are numerically as strong in the rural Patna Sahib constituency as Kayasthas (the caste Sinha belongs to) in urban areas.

But Nitish has fielded his physician Dr Gopal Sinha as the JD(U) candidate from Patna Sahib, and he is confident that apart from kayastha votes, he would benefit from Nitish’s clean image and good governance. “Besides, I am wedded to a Brahmin, so I am a damaad (son-in-law) of Brahmins,” argued the septuagenarian, confident of pipping Sinha, the “outsider”.

Adding to the contest is AAP candidate Parveen Amanullah, who till recently was a cabinet minister in the Nitish Kumarregime, but changed colours in a fit of rage to join the Arvind Kejriwal-founded party.

Daughter of former Kishanganj MP Syed Shahabuddin, Parveen hopes to draw support from more than 1.7 lakh Muslim voters. “I am a woman, represent minorities and have a clean record,” says Parveen, wife of senior bureaucrat Afzal Amanullah, at every roadshow in Patna.

But are the Muslims impressed with her track record? “She is a padhi likhi (educated) Rabri Devi,” opined Fakhruddin Alam of Sultanganj, alluding that Parveen was as good (or as bad) as the former chief minister. But Kailash Gupta, a sweet shop owner, sums it up: “The voters, instead of getting confused in the star wars, will still vote for Shatrughan, as he is representing Modi. And Modi deserves at least one chance to rule.”

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