End of a dynasty in 'Chittorgarh of Bihar'

End of a dynasty in 'Chittorgarh of Bihar'

Aurangabad is called “Chittorgarh of Bihar", having elected only caste Rajputs (also Thakur and Kshatriya) as MPs for 72 years since independence.

When the nation casts vote, Bihar votes caste is the old adage in political lexicon. This could prove true this time when votes are cast on Thursday for Aurangabad in the caste war region of central Bihar.

Aurangabad is called “Chittorgarh of Bihar", having elected only caste Rajputs (also Thakur and Kshatriya) as MPs for 72 years since independence. The Parliamentary seat is said to have the maximum Rajputs, though other communities contest the claim.

Will history be rewritten this time as the grand alliance of Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress, Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi have fielded Upendra Prasad Kushwaha, a candidate from the backward Koiri caste, hoping to cash on Muslim-Yadav (MY), Mahadalit and Kushwaha caste combination.

“This is a now or never opportunity for anyone from the OBC community to get elected to the seat. Earlier too some OBC candidates had contested from the seat, like in 2014, but then the contest was triangular. This time the social combination favours the election of an OBC from the seat,” says Anirudh Prasad Yadav, a local Congress leader.

The district has seen in the past one of the bloodiest caste wars primarily between upper-class landlords - mostly Rajputs - and OBCs, whose fighting force was mainly led by Yadavas and Koiri Kushwaha or Koiris from the front with large presence of Dalits.

While the bloody caste war ended two decades ago, the embers remain and the desire among the intermediary OBC classes to climb up the ladder of power, could very well play out in this election. 

Outcome uncertain

While the outcome remains uncertain, what is a foregone conclusion is the end of a political dynasty in Aurangabad, which ruled the roost for close to 55 years since 1950 when Satyendra Narayan Sinha became its MP in 1950 and later rose to become Chief Minister of Bihar during the heydays of Congress.

Sinha represented the seat seven times. The family's grip over the seat continued even in 2004 when his son Nikhil Kumar, who had served as Delhi Police Commissioner earlier, contested and won the seat. The 2019 general election is perhaps the first time that nobody from the first family of Aurangabad is contesting.

The Opposition has this time experimented with OBC social engineering against two-term MP Sushil Kumar Singh, who won this seat in 2009 and 2014 from JDU and BJP respectively and a clear divide on caste lines is discernible in the constituency.