Can the powerful Rajputs be derailed in Aurangabad?
Aurangabad (Bihar), April 8: It's a constituency that has consistently voted for Rajputs though they make up just 12.5 per cent of the 17 lakh voters. Now, the opposition has fielded an extremely backward caste (EBC) candidate to break the Rajput stranglehold.
Aurangabad has been a traditional Congress bastion but the party has stepped aside this time as the seat has gone to the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) in a seat sharing pact. HAM has put up EBC leader Upendra Prasad, from Dangi community, which has sizeable number of voters in the constituency.
The NDA has re-nominated BJP's Sushil Singh, a Rajput who belongs to a political family that challenged the first political family of Aurangabad of veteran Congress leader Satyanarayan Sinha, popularly known as 'Chhote Saheb'.
It was Sunil Singh's father Ramnaresh Singh, alias Lutan Singh, who had halted in 1989 the winning spree of Satyanarayan Sinha who had made Aurangabad his hub, winning seven times with the support of the Rajputs, Muslims and Dalits.
After Sinha, his son Nikhil Kumar, a former Delhi Police Commissioner, and his wife Shayama Sinha won the seat on the basis of the same social support.
In the last 30 years, the seat was won either by a member of Sinha's family or of Ramnaresh Singh's family. In 2009 and 2014, Sushil Singh won the seat, defeating Nikhil Kumar of the Congress. For the first time, none from Sinha family is in the fray in 2019.
Sushil Singh is banking on his overwhelming support base of Rajputs, Bhumihar and Brahmins. He is also eyeing the support of non-Yadav OBCs like Baniyas and Dalits, who constitute 19 per cent of voters.
On the other hand, Grand Alliance candidate Upendra Prasad is banking on his own Dangi castemen. There are also the Yadavs, who form over 12 per cent of voters and are considered loyal supporters of RJD chief Lalu Prasad; and the Koeri or Kushwahas who constitute 6.5 per cent of the electorate and owe allegiance to RLSP chief and former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha.
Muslims, who number nearly 10 per cent, are likely to support the Grand Alliance.
According to election watchers, most Rajputs will support Sushil Singh in the political battle to maintain the domination of the caste.
Development is a key election issue, followed by unemployment, drinking water scarcity and lack of water for irrigation due to depletion of ground water. People are unhappy over non-completion of North Koel Project.
Aurangabad has 17,37,821 voters, including 9,15,930 males.
Poling will be held in Aurangabad on April 11 in the first phase of the seven-phase election.