SITABDIARA (SARAN): This birthplace of Jayaprakash Narayan in Saran district, 105km from Patna, has turned into a sort of pilgrimage, with the candidates contesting the Saran Lok Sabha seat or their star campaigners visiting the village to launch their election campaign even though JP’s ancestral house is locked and abandoned as even children of his cousin are staying in New Delhi.
On Saturday, BJP candidate and former civil aviation minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, a commercial pilot, visited the village. He sat on a ‘dari’ (carpet) at the house of a villager, Sukhadi Singh, and had lunch at the residence of another villager Vinod Singh. Former CM and RJD candidate Rabri Devi’s son Tejashwi too visited Sitabdiara and requested the 8,500-strong voters spread over 27 “tolas”(clusters named after different castes) to support his mother. Deputy chairman of Bihar legislative council and JD (U) nominee Salim Parvej too called on the residents of Alam Nagar, one of the tolas.
All the three prominent candidates are using Bhojpuri to communicate with voters. Rabri tops them with her fluent rustic Bhojpuri while Rudy speaks Englicized Bhojpuri, which is not surprising given that he had his education in Chandigarh and Flordia, USA.
Surendra Singh, mukhiya of Gariba Tola, said unlike 2009 Lok Sabha elections, senior leaders are coming to the village on cars. In 2009, both Rabri and Rudy had come to this place by helicopters. He quipped, “They had come in 2009 and have returned after five years.”
Sitabdiara is encircled by three districts – Saran and Bhojpur in Bihar, and Ballia in UP. The village is developed. It has pucca road, electricity and an overhead water tank. There is no problem of bijli, sadak or paani, villagers said. Soil erosion caused by the Ganga is the only problem and many poor families from Ibrahimpura have shifted to Prabhunath Nagar as their land was eroded in ganga floods. Villagers claimed since the construction of Jayaprabha bridge over Ganga near Manjhi, connectivity to the village has improved, though connectivity to interior parts of the village is still a problem. Incidentally, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had visited the area with BJP leader L K Advani to flag off his Jan Chetna Yatra in October 2011. The village is largely dominated by Rajputs but has sizeable number of Bind and Turha (EBC) voters as well.
Parmatma Singh, an activist of JP movement, who has been fielded by AAP, is also active in campaign. He deserted BJP recently and joined AAP.
Rudy stands ‘transformed’
According to villagers, BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who visited the village on Saturday, has transformed this time. Earlier, he would not shake hands with the villagers, refuse to even drink water offered by them and not sit on the ground. But, this time, he sat on “chatai or dari” and accepted whatever was offered to him for dinner and lunch. He visited all the tolas of Sitabdiara and accepted water and snacks offered by the villagers.
Rudy told TOI, “I just communicate with the villagers. I prefer to listen their grievances, their views on elections and candidates. For the poor villagers, roti is more important.” He felt alarmed over the penetration of Maoism in the villages.