Na-wada: No need of promise, just utter NaMo or Lalu
Electorate of ‘Na-wada’ parliamentary constituency perhaps do not deserve any promise by the candidates of different political parties as the very name, when split, suggests.
The BJP’s candidate, Giriraj Singh, a former minister in the Nitish cabinet, is a very staunch supporter of the party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. So his castemen, Bhumihars, are overwhelmingly behind him and are not asking as to why the outgoing party MP, Bhola Singh, also of the same caste and who hardly fulfilled any ‘wada’ (promise), went over to Begusarai to contest the election. Just sell the dream of NaMo and that is all what the BJP supporters here feel.
Initially reluctant to contest from the seat Giriraj finally agrees to fight only after much persuasion from the party chief, Rajnath Singh, and local BJP workers. In fact he wanted to fight from his home turf, Begusarai, rather than from Nawada, but was compelled to do so by the party as Bhola Singh succeeded in getting Begusarai. Giriraj publicly accused the BJP leaders, such as Sushil Kumar Modi and Mangal Pandey for the denial of ticket from Begusarai. He even promised to expose these leaders at the time of the Assembly election.
Finally on the eve of Holi he gave up his resistance and agreed to contest from Nawada and is giving a tough fight. After all Narendra Modi made it a point to address an election rally on April 2 at Nawada and Buxar––both of them being contested by his strongest supporters in Bihar, Giriraj Singh and Ashwani Kumar Choubey. Like Giriraj, the latter too could not fight from his home turf of Bhagalpur but was rather compelled to contest from Buxar replacing the other Choubey––Lal Muni. The latter felt so humiliated that he almost resigned from the party. It was after much persuasion by NaMo that he withdrew as Independent candidate.
The BJP is a bit confident in Nawada not just because of the Modi wave but because of the presence of two important Yadav candidates in the fray––Raj Ballabh of RJD and Kaushal of Janata Dal (United).
Though the Janata Dal (United) candidate is making a little impact yet he is likely to get some Yadav as well as Mahadalit and Extreme Backward Castes votes.
But the Samajwadi Party has also put up an EBC candidate, Surendra Rajvanshi, from here. The UP chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, travelled all the way to Rajauli in the consitutency, to address a public meeting there.
The presence of Mahadalits is sizeable as before 2009 election Nawada was SC reserved constituency. Yet Yadavs and Bhumihars used to influence the politics of the constituency even then.
For example in 1998 it was won by RJD’s Malti Devi, a Dalit. But her husband, Bhuneshawar, was a Yadav. Malti died of cancer and could not contest the 1999 election. Bhuveshwar was formerly associated with the Left extremist movement but later gave up and became a social activist.
The problem with Nawada is that before the advent of Nitish Kumar there was a war of supremacy going on between Kurmis and Bhumihars. But during the eight years of the Nitish rule the tension subsided. However, after the split in the NDA the Kurmis and Bhumihars are once again likely to take different directions.
Last year Nawada town was rocked by communal violence on the Eid day. Though the situation was soon brought under the control, yet there is fear of communal polarization of votes in the constituency. After all NaMo’s reference to the Pink Revolution and export of meat has somewhat vitiated the atmosphere.
Though he to woo Yadav voters, Lalu was the first to hit back by stating that Modi wears the chappal made of leather.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar too reminded that it was Giriraj Singh as the animal husbandry minister, who approved a modern siaughter house in Araria.
Political observers are debating whether NaMo’s visit helped or harmed Giriraj, who was till recently comfortably placed.