“If you change a DM (district magistrate) every three years, why should you not change the PM after a decade?,” an angry Abhishek Kumar, in his early 20s, asks when quizzed why he wanted a Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.
A graduate in commerce but unemployed, Abhishek reconciles and then goes on to answer his own question, “The more you change, the more accountable your elected representative becomes. Otherwise, he or she will treat his or her constituency as bapauti (father’s fiefdom).”
A palpable anger is evident among the youth in this part of the “cowbelt”. People are miffed with the UPA government as well as Nitish, although they concede that the latter has done considerably good work but shot himself in the foot by severing ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“From the day Nitish severed ties with the BJP, most of the development work has come to a standstill and crime graph has increased proportionately. But then, we don’t have an alternative in the state.
Among the present crop of politicians in Bihar, Nitish is still the best bet, but this is a Lok Sabha election, where Nitish has no stakes. We may vote for Nitish in Assembly elections, but this parliamentary polls, let us give Modi one chance,” said his friend Ramashish, a local contractor.
Travelling across the Ganga, one thing was similar to south and western Bihar.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, there was no clear trend, unlike 2009 elections when the JD(U) and the BJP combination swept the polls and won 32 out of 40 Bihar Lok Sabha seats.
“See, no matter where you travel, you won’t find a set pattern being replicated elsewhere. If a Rajput of Vaishali is voting in favour of RJD (Raghuvansh Prasad Singh) in Vaishali constituency, that does not mean the Rajputs in neighbouring Chapra/Saran will vote for RJD (Rabri Devi) as well,” opined Ajay Kumar, a social scientist.
To buttress his point, he cites another case where the Yadavs of Maner are backing RJD’s Misa Bharti (Lalu’s daughter), but the Yadavs of Ara, just across the Sone river, are backing the BJP nominee R K Singh, former Union Home Secretary.
“So confusing and contradictory are the signals in Bihar that no political pundit worth his salt can make a correct prediction. It’s true that the youths are increasingly getting crazy about NaMo, but it’s equally true that people are voting here on caste basis. Or else, how could one explain that despite good performance, Nitish is nowhere in the electoral battle,” the social scientist said.