Patna,(BiharTimes):: Being the political nerve center of Magadh region, Gaya will not only matter a lot in the neck to neck fight between Grand alliance and NDA but would be crucial for the former chief minister and a new dalit icon of Bihar- Jitan Ram Manjhi, who has yet to establish his credential in an electoral battle.
With 30 percent dalit population the district (highest in the state) the upcoming assembly polls will tell the way dalits opted in a changed political situation. Out of total 10 seats three (Immamganj,Barachatti, Bodh Gaya) are being reserved for dalits.
The chief of HAM(S) Manjhi is locking horns with another Mahadalit heavyweight leader and Speaker of outgoing assembly Uday Narayan Chaudhry in Imamganj constituency. He is sitting JD (U) MLA and has won the reserved constituency five times, four of them in a row.
Manjhi has taken a calculated adventure by declaring that only he can defeat Chaudhry at his home turf to settle his score as during power tussle Chaudhry openly sided with Nitish and declared him as
unattached member of the house.
“Imamganj can be considered as a safe seat for Manjhi as Mushhars are in great number and they may go for Manjhi who himself belong to this caste. But it all depends on who much they are aggressive in polling” said Akhlaque Khan a local resident. Knowing well their habit of drinking Manjhi gave a new slogan to them-“pahle matdan phir madyapan” (first voting then drinking). He also expressed apprehension regarding distribution of liquor with high toxicity.
“New social alignment where Yadav and other backward castes along with Muslims may side with Chaudhry then it won’t be a smooth sailing for Manjhi” said Khan
“Why we should vote for Chaudhry when he failed in solving our age old problems like irrigation by Koel river canal” said Nanhku of BankeBazar.
Barachati another reserved constituency was once being represented by Manjhi himself will witness an electoral fray where two women dalits candidates pitted against each other. JDU has dropped its sitting MLA who also happened to be a relative of Manjhi and fielded Samata Devi on RJD ticket is a daughter for former Gaya MP Bhagwati Devi and LJP candidate Sudha devi is daughter in law of current BJP MP from Gaya Hari Manjhi. Incidentally both belong to Mushhar caste. While in adjoining Bodh Gaya constituency has also a direct connect with Manjhi as his son -in- law is contesting on this constituency as an independent candidate though he distanced himself from his campaign.
The crucial support of dalits in other constituency would matter a bipolar contest is likely to happen in most of the constituencies. However, not only two major alliances are claiming their support but also left parties who are also contesting on all seats also count their support. E.O.M