Forward vs backward caste contest in Dhanbad

Businessman Deepak Mandal of Bagchuma village said that besides caste equations, there is also Modi factor that will help Mahto.
Forward vs backward caste contest in Dhanbad

DHANBAD : Dhanbad Lok Sabha constituency in Jharkhand is for the first time witnessing a contest between candidates belonging to forward and backward classes even as the area is dominated by Kurmis, a backward community.

BJP has fielded Baghmara MLA Dhulu Mahto in a move to lure the Kurmi community, while the Congress has picked Anupama Singh, wife of Bremo MLA Jaimangal Singh. She is contesting polls for the first time Both the candidates are banking on caste equations to mobilise support.

In spite of Dhanbad being a BJP stronghold, Mahto is facing tough challenge from the Congress candidate, according to political observers.

In 2014, BJP’s Pashupati Nath Singh had won the seat with a margin of 2.93 lakh votes and in 2019 the margin increased to 4.86 lakh. But looking at the huge Kurmi and Koiri votes, BJP ignored the old equations, and fielded Mahto, a Kurmi.

According to political experts, BJP’s move intends to mobilise Kurmi voters who are sizeable in numbers. As per government data, out of total 2,285, 237 voters in Dhanbad, Kurmis top the list with more than 26% followed by Muslims, Brahmins, Rajputs, Bhumihars and Kayasths. There are also a sizeable number of tribals.

Dhanbad has six assembly constituencies — Dhanbad, Jharia, Sindri, Nirsa, Bokaro and Chandankiyari. Out of the six, BJP has MLAs in five seats, except Jharia.

According to locals, if the voting percentage of rural voters will be larger, it will be easier for Mahto to sail through, and if urban voter turnout will be more, the Congress candidate will win the seat.

“Looking at the caste equations, if BJP succeeds in bringing out the rural voters to polling booths, Dhulu Mahto will win and if voting percentage of urban voters remains high, it will be beneficial for the Congress candidate,” said Subal Kumbkar, a ration shop owner of Deoli village. “Even though there is a tough contest between the two, there are chances of BJP getting through easily,” he added.

Businessman Deepak Mandal of Bagchuma village said that besides caste equations, there is also Modi factor that will help Mahto.

Most of the people believe that Mahto will get advantage of being a local. “Dhulu Mahto being a local will have an advantage in Dhanbad, Jharia and Bokaro where there are sizeable number of Kurmi voters,” said retired schoolteacher Doman Mahto of Shibu Tand in Bokaro.

Silpi Kumai, a part II student at a college, however, believes that Anupama will have the benefit of being a woman as more woman voters will vote for her.

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