MUZAFFARPUR: Changes are visible in north Bihar’s ‘litchi bowl’ in Muzaffarpur with swanky new flyovers, shinning roads and mushrooming growth of commercial complexes. There is ample power availability too. However, what remains unchanged is the dynamics of caste politics, which alone plays the key role in deciding the winner when the constituency votes on May 6.
Anil Kumar, a retired professor of political science of a constituent college of BBA Bihar University, said, “Notwithstanding a lot of infrastructural development it would again be the caste issues that will decide the ultimate winner. Development is discussed, but weightage to it in an election is highly unlikely.”
Ranjit Kumar, owner of a rural outlet of LPG gas in Bocchaha, said, “In 2014, the BJP won the seat by fielding Ajoy Nishad with the support of upper caste Bhumihars. The combination of caste under the Modi wave was so strong here that Akhilesh Kumar Singh of Congress, despite being a Bhumihar could not be elected.”
Supporting Kumar, Parasnath Chaudhary of Pokharaia village said, “If existing caste equations remain, it will be to the advantage of BJP.”
PM Narendra Modi’s poll rally on April 30, a day after the end of the fourth phase, has boosted the NDA, though the caste arithmetic and alliance advantage stands with the Mahagathbandhan, making for a close fight.
A section of young voters lamented that despite Muzaffarpur having the potential to be the hub of commercial and educational activities, there is a lack of jobs. “Neither has industrialization been given a boost despite the creation of the Bela industrial estate nor has the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar Bihar University been accorded central status. We are demanding central status for the university with facilities to teach all streams,” said Bablu Trivedi, doing M Phil in sociology.
Muzaffarpur is also the divisional headquarters of Tirhut division of Bihar since 1875 and named after Muzaffar Khan, a revenue officer under the British. But Jay Shanker Rai of Bocchaha alleged that caste politics gained prominence in Muzaffarpur in the 1990s with the rise of Lalu Prasad. “Whatever development has taken place here is post Lalu-Rabri regime. But a positive result for NDA can only be achieved if its candidate wins.”
Many feel the alliance of Mahagathbandhan with Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) of Mukesh Sahni — a Nishad — would divide votes making it a close fight. The VIP has fielded Raj Bhushan Chaudhary of Nishad caste against sitting MP Ajay Nishad of BJP.
“Muzaffarpur LS will not remain the fiefdom of Ajay Nishad and his family. Captain JN Nishad represented this seat and after him, his son Ajay Nishad... There are many others from the Nishad community,” said Ashok Nishad and his supporters.