Will BIPASA help Power Minister RK Singh sail through?

Before RK Singh, the last time Ara had a VVIP candidate contesting from this Lok Sabha constituency in Central Bihar was in 1989, when former Union Minister Bali Ram Bhagat was in the fray.

Bhagat, who represented Ara for nearly four decades from 1952 to 1989 (with an exception of 1977-84), served as a Union Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker (1976-77) and Governor of Rajasthan (1993-98).

But the veteran Congressman (Bali Ram Bhagat) lost to a lesser mortal Rameshwar Prasad of IPF (Indian People’s Front), the previous avatar of ultra-Left CPI-ML, in 1989.

Exactly 30 years later, Union Power Minister RK Singh faces a similar challenge from a rookie politician Raju Yadav of the CPI-ML.

“It’s true that RK Singh has done a lot in terms of Bijli, Pani and Sadak, the three main issues (popularly called BI-PA-SA) afflicting Ara. But don’t underestimate Raju. He could give a repeat performance (of how IPF pipped Bali Ram Bhagat) witnessed three decades back,” argues Pappu Khan, a local from Sandesh, one of the Assembly segments of Ara Lok Sabha constituency.

Adjacent to Sandesh is Barhara (another Assembly segment of this parliamentary seat) where a street corner meeting of locals, over a cup of tea, is going on. No one is concerned about Balakot air strike as they term it as “Modi’s hawabaazi (Modi’s bluff) on the eve of polls.” The fierce discussion is more on Rafale, Nirav Modi’s escape and Rahul Gandhi’s chowkidar jibe.

“During 2014 LS polls, even we (Yadavs) voted in the name of Narendra Modi for two reasons. One, a perception was created that Manmohan Singh Government is corrupt. And secondly, Modi looked promising. Five years down the line, not one leader of the previous regime has been arrested. The promise of two crore jobs to youth was an eyewash. So was the promise of Rs 15 lakh to every bank account,” says Surendra Yadav, a local trader.

“It’s time for a change (of public representative). Raju Yadav of CPI-ML is a local, enjoys the support of Mahagatbandhan and is in direct contest with BJP's RK Singh,” says Gopal Rai, who works as a security guard.

The scene is diametrically opposite in urban areas. Locals talk more of Bi (Bijli), Pa (pani) and Sa (sadak) and say how ‘Bijli’ has improved after RK Singh became Union Power Minister. Roads were constructed but some of them are in a dilapidated situation due to consistent water dripping from sand-laden trucks. And for water (in farmland), RK Singh has suggested the use of pumps using solar power.

Amid contradictory versions, Raj Kumar, a private sector employee, predicts: “Ara is the only constituency in Bihar where there is 80 per cent probability of CPI-ML emerging triumphant.”

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