For first time in seven decades, voters seek local representative

In the 2019 general elections, despite anti-outsider sentiments looming large among the electorate, the BJP, Congress and RJD had fielded outsiders from here.
KN Triparthi (R),  Kalicharan Singh(L)
KN Triparthi (R), Kalicharan Singh(L)

RANCHI: Whether Chatra Lok Sabha seat in Jharkhand will get a local parliamentarian for the first time is a major poll buzz in the constituency as all MPs elected from here since 1957 were outsiders.

Sensing the long-standing demand of the locals, the BJP for the first time has fielded a local candidate, Kalicharan Singh, from the seat.

The Congress has given ticket to senior leader and former Daltonganj legislator KN Triparthi, an outsider.

In the 2019 general elections, despite anti-outsider sentiments looming large among the electorate, the BJP, Congress and RJD had fielded outsiders from here. BJP’s Sunil Singh was elected from the seat by margin of more than 5.5 lakh votes and Manoj Yadav of Congress came second. Out of a total of 26 candidates in fray, 23 were locals.

In the 2014 LS polls, 17 out of 20 candidates contesting from the seat were locals, but none of them won. In 2009, seven out of 11 candidates were locals but an independent candidate, Inder Singh Namdhari, also an outsider, got elected from the seat.

In 2019, BJP’s Sunil Singh had registered victory with a huge margin but this time the calculation has changed due a joint candidate fielded by the INDIA bloc.

Apart from local-outsider talks, the primary issues here are lack of educational facilities and unemployment leading to mass exodus of youth in the region. In spite of having Asia’s largest open cast coal mine ‘Amrapali’ in Chatra and Latehar, there is acute shortage of employment due to lack of industries in the region.

Locals believe that the primary reason behind the lack of development in the region is the parliamentarians being outsiders who come here seeking votes every five years and never show up after that.

“Though there is neck to neck contest between the BJP and Congress candidates, sentiments of the people will definitely be towards a local candidate which has been a long-time demand here,” a teacher posted in Simaria block of Chatra said, requesting anonymity.

Youths, however, are more concerned about the issue of employment and are in favour of casting their votes to a candidate who will ensure the same for them.

“We are not going into the controversy of insider and outsider, but our only concern is employment…whichever party will ensure employment for the youth, we will vote for it,” said Pappu Kumar, a student of Tandawa pursuing his graduation in commerce.

Bharat Kumar of Simaria, who works as deed writer at Chatra court, is quite hopeful that a local candidate will change things in the region. “We have seen outsiders since independence who did nothing for the region and used us only to reach to parliament; therefore, we have made up our mind to give a chance to Kalicharan Munda who is quite familiar with the local issues and the problems we are facing,” said Bharat Kumar.

BJP is banking on the Modi factor and seeking votes in the name of a local candidate, while the Congress is going to the people assuring them that it will bring development in the region if voted to power.

BJP candidate Singh says, “Lotus will bloom in Chatra as people of Chatra have faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s guarantees. Chatra will definitely move forward on the path of development.”

Tripathy is going to the people on the issue of development, saying “people are annoyed with the BJP as no development took place during the last 10 years in Chatra. All the alliance partners are making efforts to ensure my victory.”

Out of five Assembly seats, two have BJP MLAs and three have MLAs of INIDIA bloc.

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