MADHEPURA: It’s a land of dons, power and hunger. As a Lok Sabha constituency, it has sent prominent leaders such as Sharad Yadav and Pappu Yadav to Parliament. It has yet another claim to fame: it’s the native place of former Bihar CM Bindeshwari Prasad Mandal who chaired the Mandal Commission on caste reservations.
In the Assembly segments of Madhepura, Alamnagar, Singheshwar (SC) and Bihariganj, forget development as a poll theme. The entire constituency continues to repose trust in Lalu Prasad, the incarcerated RJD chief. The caste lines are very sharp in these areas. “Why would people look at development works when they vote on the basis of caste, anyway,” says a local contractor Bhawanand Yadav.
“Moreover, nothing has changed in the last 15 years of Nitish rule. If the RJD rule was a ‘jungle raj’ it is now the ‘loot raj’.” Here roads have long potholed stretches, where it takes at least 4-5 hours to cover 100km. Yet in terms of politics, the constituency going to the polls today is so important that both JD-U’s Nitish Kumar and RJD’s Tejsaswi Yadav have been camping in Madhepura.
The area has Yadavs, Dalits and Mahadalit as predominant castes, and the ruling JD-U is making all-out efforts to make a dent in the RJD stronghold. “Call it his charisma or his rustic oratorical skills, the people here easily identify themselves with Lalu ji. He has a huge fan-following,” says a school teacher. Many say that it being a Yadav-dominated area, it’s the caste factor that has led RJD to win seats in Madhepura.
Birendra Yadav, a local contractor, says no development work was carried out either during the RJD or JD-U rule.
But youths differ and say they will vote for development. “We are getting regular electricity and water, and we hope that unemployment will also be tackled if Nitishji returns to power,” said first-time voter Avinash Kumar. The JD-U has stepped up efforts to mobilise people, especially after Pappu Yadav’s entry. Pappu is fighting a battle of prestige. After floating the Jan Adhikar Party-Loktantrik, the three-time ex-MP is contesting as the CM candidate of the Progressive Democratic Alliance.