Aurangabad: The generational war between Rajput political overlords goes on

Soroor Ahmed

The Aurangabad parliamentary constituency, known as Chittorgarh of the East, is one of the few seats in Bihar, where the two national parties––the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress––are almost in straight contest, though Janata Dal (United)’s Bagi Prasad Verma, is trying to make it a three-cornered fight.

Yet grapevine has it that some top BJP leaders are not averse to the victory of the Congress candidate, Nikhil Kumar, who was, till a few weeks back, the governor of Kerala. After all, he is the brother-in-law of the BJP MP of Purnea, Uday Singh, and N K Singh, the former Revenue Secretary of India. The latter had joined the BJP only recently after he was not re-nominated to the Rajya Sabha by Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United).

Stories are doing the rounds in political circle that since N K Singh had a good rapport with Mukesh Ambani, when he was the Special Secretary in the Prime Minister Office during the Vajpayee era, even the BJP top brass would not like his brother-in-law to be defeated. They think that Nikhil’s presence in the Lok Sabha may be more beneficial to the BJP than that of his rival and the party’s own candidate, Sushil Kumar Singh, who crossed over from the Janata Dal (United) only recently.

Ambani’s proximity to Narendra Modi is a known fact so the BJP’s top-brass wants to keep all options open.

In all the last 15 Lok Sabha elections Aurangabad had sent Rajput in Parliament. Like in Chittorgarh the Rajput political war-lords are at daggers drawn position in the constituency.

Former minister and BJP leader, Ramadhar Singh, is so much upset over the denial of ticket that he publicly stated that the Kshatriya (Rajput) dharma demands that the enemy should be buried.

The irony of the situation is that it was the same Sushil Singh, who inflicted humiliating defeat on Nikhil Kumar in the last Lok Sabha election as the Janata Dal (United). Though he was brought into the party fold by none else but Rajnath Singh today he is not finding himself at home in the saffron camp.

Sushil Singh is the son of Ram Naresh Singh, alias Lootan Singh, who was formerly associated to the family of Anugrah Narain Singh and Satyendra Narain Singh––Nikhil’s father and grand-father––but later rebelled against the family and won as MP for the first time in 1989 on Janata Dal ticket. He won again in 1991.

Though Rajputs have a sizeable presence here Aurangabad has a big Yadav population too. So much political significance was attached to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s meeting with him in Patna when he had not yet quit the post of Kerala governor. In fact the meeting took place even before the RJD-Congress tie up was actually finalized.

The constituency has a sizeable Koeri voters too and the Janata Dal (United) candidate, Bagi Prasad Verma is trying his level best to woo them. But the problem with him is that there are several old Koeri leaders of the party who are working against him as he had joined the JD(U) only recently.

Even the BJP’s Gurua MLA Surendra Prasad Sinha was all set to contest the Aurangabad parliamentary seat as JD (U) candidate. But Bagi managed to get the ticket finally leading to a lot of resentment.

While there is turmoil in both the BJP and Janata Dal (United) the Congress-RJD camp is at least free from any such rancor in this constituency, which is also known for giving birth to the art of booth-grabbing in the country way back in 1950s.

The credit for introducing this malpractice goes to the family members and ancestors of both the BJP and Congress candidates.

Aurangabad is still famous for for classic feudalism and retaliatory Maoists’ violence. The Dalelchak-Bhagaura massacre of mid-1980s still haunts the people. Forty-two Rajputs were killed in Dalelchak-Bhagaura by Maoists Communist Centre, the earlier version of CPI (Maoists), in retaliation to the killing of seven members of the weaker section of the society. Three decades later the scene has not changed much.

Aurangabad constituency has parts of Gaya district too. The Howrah-Delhi Grand Chord railway line cuts the constituency into two halves. G T Road (or Sadak-e-Azam, which is its original name) also runs parallel to the rail-track.

Rajputs are heavily concentrated in the southern half while the other landed upper caste, Bhumihars, have a sizeable population in the north.

Aurangabad has Dalit, Extreme Backward Castes and Muslim votes too.

While the Congress is hoping to get a big chunk of Rajput, Muslim and Yadav votes the BJP is relying more heavily on the “NaMo-wave”. But the rebellion within the party is causing problem. The Janata Dal (United) candidate is hoping to get the votes of Koeris, Dalits and EBCs. He is claiming that the “good-work” done by chief minister Nitish Kumar may help ensure his victory.

With poll still a few days from now, the Congress can get some consolation that it is very much in contest here. But the credit for this largely goes to the party’s alliance with RJD. Otherwise last time the same Nikhil Kumar, a retired Delhi Police chief, forfeited his deposit when the Congress fought alone. In 2004 he had won because the Congress-RJD-LJP formed an alliance.

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