Nitish or Manjhi, women yet to decide

Nitish or Manjhi, women yet to decide

Nitish or Manjhi, women yet to decide

A few kilometres ahead of Jehanabad, Sarita Devi (name changed) runs a grocery shop on Patna-Gaya road. The woman, in her early 40s, is clear whom she would vote for, but is not willing to share her preference so early.

“Why should I tell you which party I would vote for? Aap Bihar ke nahin hain kya (Are you not from Bihar)? Are you not aware that once I make my choice public, it will create more animosity in this small hamlet of Masaurhi,” argued Sarita. A cup of tea near her shop makes her shed some initial inhibitions. “See, Nitish Kumar gave my girls poshak and cycle (school dress and bicycle). They now go to school pedalling bicycle at a place where you know so much of khoon kharaba (bloodshed) took place in 2005. But all that has changed now for better,” she says, recalling how Jehanabad was witness to Maoist attack in November 2005 in which nearly 1,000 ultras waylaid the town, raided the jail premises and freed their incarcerated men after indiscriminate firing.

“Nitish Babu ke raj mein ab shanti hai (Now there is peace in Nitish regime). Even girls are safe. And that is of paramount importance for us,” she says giving ample indication of her vote preference.  Women in urban areas too are not willing to share their preference so easily. “Gaya is the BJP fiefdom. So the sitting MLA Prem Kumar won’t have much of a problem,” a female school teacher, whose salary was revised by the Nitish government recently, says. “My family is divided on supporting the BJP. Last year, I voted for Modi. But now that Nitish has fixed a pay-scale for us, announced several schemes for girls (like school uniform, sanitary napkins apart from bicycle), at least I will vote for him,” she adds, insisting that since she is a government employee, her name be not published.
But the Gaya teacher has a request for the Bihar chief minister.  “I would appeal to Nitish ji that if he returns to power, he should put a stop to alcoholism which has increased manifold after new liquor shops were opened in the last few years.”

In certain remote pockets of Magadh belt, Mahadalit women root for Jitan Ram Manjhi. The former chief minister, who was removed unceremoniously by Nitish, is riding on a sympathy wave. Contesting from two constituencies Imamganj (Gaya) and Makhdumpur (Jehanabad), Manjhi’s supporters, particularly women, could spoil Nitish’s party in some areas. “Itna bheed dekh kar bhi na samajla tu (After watching such massive crowd, you still can’t make out the voters’ mood,” Chanda Bharti, who had come from Roshanganj village to meet Manjhi, said in Maghi dialect. But not every woman is ready to vote for Nitish or Manjhi. “In the last 25 years, we have seen Lalu, Rabri, Nitish and Manjhi as chief minister. Now let’s give BJP a chance,” argued Jyoti, a  school teacher.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)