Meira set to counter Modi wave, hat-trick likely

Meira set to counter Modi wave, hat-trick likely

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is probably right when he says there is no Modi wave in Bihar ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. That’s because it’s not merely a wave. It’s a storm!

The ground reality here in western Bihar is that fandom is reaching fever pitch with followers of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate chanting ‘NaMo’. But there is a strange contradiction amongst voters here because of their unabiding love for their incumbent MP, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who might be capable of weathering the Modi storm.

Meira, daughter of former deputy prime minister Jagjiwan Ram, continues to have enormous goodwill among the public for bringing this constituency back on the national map. Her father won from here eight consecutive times from 1952 to 1986. Carrying on her father’s legacy, Meira won here in 2004 and 2009. And if popular sentiment is an indication, she is poised for a hat-trick.

A K Gupta, a retired official, voices the Modi-Meira contradiction rather well. “We want Narendra Modi to be the PM. But that does not mean, we want Meira to be defeated. She has done so much for our constituency in the last 10 years that you will have to spend reams of newsprint writing about her contribution,” he said.

To buttress his point, he cites the example of farmers of Sasaram who earlier faced an irrigation problem. “Meiraji’s efforts have ensured water from Sone river into the canal. She ensured railway connectivity. Through her MPLAD fund, she has opened colleges for girls and distributed tricycles to handicapped,” said Gupta, recounting her work until someone interrupts him to explain the Congress MP’s fortunes further.

“Meira can be defeated only if the administration indulges in foul play, much like the 1991 election when she was defeated by Chedi Paswan of the Janata Dal. This happened at the behest of Lalu Prasad, who was then the chief minister of Bihar and M K Srivastava was the district magistrate here. I was then on poll duty and was an eyewitness to the foul play engaged while counting (that time it was manual),” alleged another retired official, who refused to be identified.

Ironically, Lalu Prasad, will be rooting for Meira this time because his party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and the Congress have an alliance here.

Chedi Paswan, a former Janata Dal (United) MLA, who resigned last month and joined the BJP, will be contesting against Meira. In Paswan’s place, Nitish Kumar has fielded former IAS officer K P Ramaiah, a native of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, as the JD (U) candidate. “Ramaiah saheb time waste kar rahein hai. He is not even in the race.

The turncoat Chedi may get votes in Modi wave, but no one can stop Meira from winning. This is because she visits Sasaram regularly, meets people and redresses their grievances,” said Ajay Choudhary, a Dalit by caste and a trader by profession, in Bhabua, one of the six Assembly segments of this parliamentary constituency.

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