This BIPASA sexes up Nitish poll prospects

He is riding on the power, water and road plank; caste takes backseat

This BIPASA sexes up Nitish poll prospects

The election campaign here is a low-key affair, thanks to the strict guidelines issued by the Election Commission. However, the voters have already made up their mind for the October 21 polling.

Cutting across caste and creed, be it the dominant upper caste Brahmins or backwards, the voters in general profusely thank Nitish Mishra, the sitting MLA in the outgoing assembly, for carrying out development works on such a large scale.

“What do we really want?,” Radheshyam Chaurasia, a betel shop owner, asks and then goes on to answer himself: “Three basic things: Bi-jli, Pa-ni, Sa-dak. BI-PA-SA (not Basu).” He smiles.

“Nitish has ensured all the three. In my block itself, 72 new tubewells have been sunk. Visit the entire constituency, you will find new transformers… something we hankered for, but never got. Roads have improved. Now it takes two hour less time to reach Patna. Life sudhar gaya hai (Life has improved),” he recounts in one go.

His remarks are not wide off the mark. One can see new electric wire lines have been set up, new transformers installed and new handpumps sunk.  

“Five years ago, when we used to get power for six continuous hours, these electric wires would melt and get snapped due its poor quality. Now they have been replaced with better quality wires. Besides, 78 new transformers have been installed, while the capacity of the existing transformers have been enhanced. Today, we get electricity for at least 12 hours a day,” said septuagenarian Parmeshwar Jha.

Vision for constituency

Locals say the young Nitish Mishra, who is in his mid-30s, is a management graduate from UK, and, as such, has a vision to develop his constituency. The younger son of former Bihar Chief Minister  Dr Jagannath Mishra is pitted against Harku Jha, the son of veteran Congressman Radhanandan Jha. Mishra has earlier served as the Minister for Sugarcane and later as Minister for Disaster Management in Nitish regime.

Radhanandan was Speaker of the Bihar Assembly in early 80s when Dr Jagannath Mishra was the chief minister. Now, the sons of two rival Brahmins are in the fray from two different parties to keep their legacy intact.

However, the disadvantage with Harku is that he is an outsider. He has earlier served as an MLA from the neighbouring Madhepur constituency from 1985 to 1990. Besides, he represents a party which is gasping for breath in a constituency which has 20.1 per cent Brahmins, 12.8 per cent Muslims and 9.8 per cent Dalits.

Making the contest a triangular one is the RJD’s Jagat Narian Singh, who is a sitting MLA from the adjoining Madhepur but had to contest from Jhanjharpur after a large chunk of his constituency was merged with Jhanjharpur following delimitation.

His supporters turn a blind eye to all the development work done by Nitish Kumar. “It does not matter whether Lalu worked for us or not. What matters to us is that he empowered us,” Chedi Paswan, an ardent RJD supporter said.

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