By Kumar Ankit:
In the second part of our series we will discuss the prospects of Rajput voters. Till date every party has tried its best to woo the Rajput leaders so that they can have a share of the pie of 5% Rajput voters in Bihar.
Talking about the leaders of the Rajput community, they are renowned “Dabangs” with a few of them from notoriously feudal backgrounds. Actually there are many leaders within a district who have influence over select groups of people but overall there are very few mass leaders namely Prabhunath Singh, Digvijay Singh Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Anand Mohan.
These 3 leaders have great influence in their own specific areas. Prabhunath Singh has joined RJD just ahead of the polls and his entry into the RJD has boosted the RJD’s chances of winning in the Saran constituency. Prabhunath was the man responsible for Lalu’s defeat in the 2005 elections. But due to continuous sidelining by Nitish he had no other choice but to leave the party.
Digvijay Singh is no more in this world but before his sad demise he had set the platform for the anti-Nitish campaign. He had a great influence in the areas of Banka, Jamui, Bhagalpur and Munger. Till date his wife Putul Devi has not joined any party and will fight independently.
Anand Mohan is in Jail as he is serving a life term in Saharsa jail for lynching Gopalganj DM G. Krishnaiyyah in 1994. But a few weeks ago he was one of the most sought after men as every party tried to woo him. Nitish even went to her niece’s wedding and chitchatted with her mother, while RJD’s Ram Kripal fixed several meetings with him in jail. But in the end his wife cleared the frame by attending Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Saharsa.
These three leaders were important as they helped Nitish form the government but this time they have switched sides.
Nitish himself knows the importance of these three leaders as they had single-handedly won the elections for him. In the last elections, the JDU-BJP alliance had won 7 out of 10 seats in Saran. In Siwan the alliance got 5 out of 8. Digvijay Singh proved his worth by winning the Banka LS elections as an independent candidate. Dada was sidelined from the party as he belonged from George Fernandes cadre and that was one of the reasons why he left the party and formed an anti-Nitish campaign under the name of Kisan Mahapanchyat.
Anand Mohan’s wife Lovely Anand contested the 2005 elections from JDU. But the jailed politican helped the NDA alliance in winning 5 out of 5 seats in the Lalu dominated area of Madhepura, 5 out of 5 in Supaul and 2 out of 4 in Saharsa. But because the speedy trial sponsored by Nitish government angered Mohan, his wife joined Congress before the LS elections.
As these stalwarts of the Rajput community have flung Nitish, he is trying his best to win some Rajput leaders and this is the reason why he has promoted Harikishore Singh, a former Minister. What is worrying Nitish more is that he has no influential leader of this caste as Vijay Krishan who left RJD and joined JDU is still in jail and other leaders are local in nature. BJP however has few names in the rank of Rudy, Radha Mohan Singh an MP from Motihari and Pappu Singh. They can help a bit in consolidation of Rajput votes.
RJD however is having the last laugh as 3 out of 4 of their MPs are Rajput The three are namely Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Jagtanand Singh and Uma Shankar Singh. Raghuvansh babu has considerable influence in Vaishali, Muzzafarpur and Motihari. Jagatanand Singh is famous in Bhojpur belt while Uma Shankar has a mass following in Saran and Siwan and with the addition of Prabhunath Singh they have got what they wanted.
Congress can harp about the addition of Mohan family as they have got Kosi region covered.
So in the end it can be said that soured relations with politically influential Rajput leaders is going to cost Nitish because they possess powers to decide the electoral results in as many as 60 of Bihar’s 243 assembly seats. Lalu, a post graduate in caste politics and a believer that “development does not bring votes” is sitting handsome as far as Rajput voters are concerned because they are angry with the favor accorded to Mahadalits.
This was the second part of the Bihar elections. We will review other caste factors in the next part.