With the sudden demise of Mohammad Taslimuddin, the incumbent Member of Parliament from Araria, the district is all set for by-elections. Many perceive this as a second chance for the voters to re-elect their representative and determine the fate of the representation of their voice in the Lok Sabha.
Araria had been in the headlines for being the poorest district of Bihar. The flood which swept away thousands of people and destroyed massive properties and livestock hardly found any attention in the mainstream media which was busy debating cattle.
The Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan along with the National Alliance of People’s Movements and Lok Dhara organized a Yatra across Araria, taking up the various socio-political issues that concern the people. The Yatra started from the premises of the Araria R.S. railway station and then moved to Jamua and Mahendipur Hatiya via Tarabari which witnessed people hearing and sharing their woes.
If a citizen resorts to any malpractices, the police creates a charge-sheet of the felony. Thus, with by-election round the corner and both the Union and the State failing to fulfill most of its electoral promises and resorting to hypocrisy over numerous socio-political reforms, the people of Araria decided to create a charge-sheet before their representatives hit the road with convoy of cars and start begging for votes.
The Yatra witnessed mass participation. Ashish Ranjan from the JJSS took up the mic and highlighted how corruption at the administrative level had created a nightmare for all the flood victims who were denied the government relief package they were entitled to receive. The crowd included men, women, children, youth, and elderly persons. Due to this diverse gathering, there were dialogues on the issues that mattered the most to the people there.
“Now, as the election is knocking at the door, the votes are split into Yadavs, Paswans, Muslims and other castes. Big leaders will come and ask us to vote for them because they represent our caste. If we don’t, they will disown us from our caste, as they think we betrayed the whole caste with one vote. But will that big Paswan leader marry off his daughter with the son of a poor Paswan farmer? No. Because the class apartheid exists and these affinities like religion and caste are mere tools to create vote-banks,” Ranjit says.
Jitendra Paswan, a name quite familiar in the field of cultural activism for folk songs was present along with Dinesh Mukhiya, his companion with dhol, beautifying the Yatra with songs of broken dreams, hope and the woes of farmers and peasants in the current regime. Shivnarayan and youth team of JJSS with Doli, Krischam, Mithun and Neeraj sang songs of revolution and justice.
Mithun, a student from Araria, brought up the plight of Araria College where there are hardly any professors in the commerce stream since the last one retired. He brought in the inequalities and the appalling condition of the education infrastructure in the district and how it is incompetent in creating human capital contrary to the private counterparts that come with an expensive rate card.
Mandvi highlights the level of discrimination that a person faces in Government offices just because the officers judge them by the prism of their looks and not give any importance to their woes. This shows the level of prejudice propagated by those whom we call “public servants”. She calls for unity among the people. Every meeting witnessed heaps of grievances that seldom go noticed by the administration or the political representatives.
Amidst discussions on a special package for Bihar, Aadhaar’s tyranny, corruption during the floods and the lack of development in healthcare and education, it became certain that no progress will ever happen in one of Bihar’s poorest districts – as long as the political parties decorate their convoys with cars and go on a vote-begging spree in the name of caste and religion.
Ordinary workers, peasants and youth say that the people’s court will give its verdict on the charge sheet filed in this by-election.