Ara: There are 12 candidates in the fray for Ara parliamentary seat which is going to the polls on April 17, but it’s a triangular contest among BJP, RJD and JD(U) nominees.
The constituency comprises seven assembly segments of Sandesh, Shahpur, Agiaon, Ara, Tarari, Jagdishpur and Barahara which are dominated mostly by Rajputs, Yadavas, Bhumihars, Brahmins and Kushwahas. BJP represents Sandesh, Shahpur, Agiaon and Ara assembly segments while RJD has MLAs from Jagdishpur and Barhara. Tarari is represented by JD (U). Sitting MP and JD (U) nominee Meena Singh is trying hard to retain her seat. Ara was represented by the Congress from 1952 to 1977 and again from 1984 to 1989 by the former external affairs minister and also Lok Sabha speaker Baliram Bhagat.
The BJP has fielded former union home secretary Raj Kumar Singh, a native of Supaul district, while the RJD has nominated JD (U) deserter and former minister Sri Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha, son-in-law of Jagdish Master, the founder of Naxal movement in the then Shahabad district. He joined RJD when the JD (U) denied him the ticket from Ara. Meena had trounced LJP strongman Rama Singh in 2009 parliamentary election. The CPI (ML) candidate Raju Yadav, too, is no lightweight either. His party colleague Rameshwar Prasad had stunned everyone by defeating Baliram Bhagat in 1989.
Meena, the widow of former MP Ajit Singh and daughter-in-law of champion of cooperative movement Tapeshwar Singh, is facing people’s ire due to her failure to meet their expectations. The state government’s indifferent approach to the murder of Ranveer Sena founder Brahmeshwar Mukhia has made the Bhumihars hostile and even Rajputs are not in a mood to support her. She is, however, confident that the extremely backward class, Muslims and mahadalits will back her, though the RJD candidate Kushwaha also makes the similar claim.
Raj Kumar Singh claims he will win the election by a comfortable margin as the people of every section of the society will vote for him, but the presence of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Dr Surendra Kumar Prasad is, however, may make things difficult for him. Singh also can’t afford a division in Rajput votes as it might work to the advantage of Kushwaha. Though R K Singh claimed his position was further consolidated after the visit of BJP PM pick Narendra Modi to the constituency on April 10, internal feud in the party is a matter of concern for him. The same bug has bitten the RJD and the JD (U) nominees.
People of Ara parliamentary constituency are still crying for electricity, drinking water, road and irrigation facilities, said ex-army man Rana Pratap Singh of Karisath village and added that even the Maoist affected villages like Tarari, Chandi, Khaira, Ekwari were going without power.
An octogenarian, Ram Ayodhya Singh runs a tea stall at Shahpur and is a Kushwaha by caste. He said his community would vote for RJD while a betel shopowner Ram Jee Yadav of Sandesh said though most of the Yadavas are willing to vote for RJD, he and some others would certainly vote for the BJP as they want development. Moti Ram of Majhaua and others like him appeared inclined towards CPI (ML) nominee.
Satish Rana and V Tiwari of Ara said they would vote for the AAP nominee in view of the party’s fight against corruption. A group of Rajputs, Kurmis, some women and others wished to vote for JD (U) candidate saying she worked for them and CM Nitish Kumar is fighting for the special category status to Bihar. A group of Rajputs, Bhumihars, Brahmins, Jains, Kayasthas and some backward caste people, when contacted, frankly said they were with Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, residents of Mishraulia, Gobindpur, Marchaiya, Saiya, Ramkarhi, Pachkaudi Dera, Dalan Chhapra, Lakshu Tola under Shahpur block, Jagdishpur and Hematpur, West Gundi, Jhonkhipur under Barahara block, Chitrasenpur and Shubhakaranganj under Ara block, Pitaro under Piro block, Balihari under Charpokhari block have decided to boycott the polls due to lack of development works in their villages. They have pasted posters on the wall, ‘Bijli, paani, sadak nahi, to vote nahi’.