KHAGARIA: Khagaria constituency of Bihar is unique in many ways. Surrounded by seven rivers and managing to exist only due to a protective ring bundh (embankment), the constituency is mapped as being among the 250 most backward areas of the 640 districts of India.
The constituency is surrounded on all sides by Ganga to its south, Kamla Balan group of rivers to its west, Kosi and Burhi Gandak to its east, besides Kareh, Kali Kosi and Bagmati. Khagaria also has a welter of castes and sub-castes known as the Pachpaniyas (55 castes), making it difficult for candidates to assimilate them, thus making for tough campaigns.
“As such, it’s not going to be easy either for LJP’s sitting MP, NDA’s Chaudhry Mehboob Ali Kaiser, from a Zamindar family of Sonbarsa area, or Mahagathbandhan candidate Mukesh Sahni — a Bollywood set designer,” said Ravi Charan Yadav, a cattle owner. He believes, only a split in votes like 2014 can help the NDA.
Khagaria has in past elections registered high turnout of female voters and this time, the candidates are wooing women assiduously. In 2014, the female voter turnout was 65% compared to 56.23% male voters.
At a jewellery shop in Khagaria town, Madhubala Devi, 45, who runs a private school in Beldaur, said women voters of Khagaria may be illiterate but vote on their own choice.
“That’s why, some time, even non-Yadav candidates tend to win,” she said.
In 2014, Kaiser had defeated RJD candidate Krishna Yadav by a margin of 55,000 votes because of a major division in Yadav votes as JDU candidate Dinesh Chandra Yadav polled 2.20 lakh votes.
“Mukesh Sahni, chief of VIP party, who is Mahagathbandhan candidate is locked in a fierce fight with Kaiser. So, our interest is low,” admitted Pawan Yadav, 41, a chemist at Hasanpur.
But then, Mukesh’s Sahni caste aided by Mallah-Kewat’s and fishermen enjoy huge clout among the Pachpaniya castes, which makes him a candidate in lead.
To consolidate Yadavs, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav has campaigned intensively and asked the voters to vote Sahni in order to help Lalu Prasad, lodged in jail in a fodder case.
From the NDA side, CM Nitish Kumar, Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, LJP Chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Chirag Paswan and many others have crisscrossed the constituency too.