Bihar all set for third phase of elections, will Caste be a decisive factor?

The third phase of elections in Bihar will see a fight for some crucial seats with constituencies Jhanjharpur, Supaul, Araria, Madhepura and Khagaria going for polling on April 23, 2019.

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In the 2014 elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won 22 out of the 40 seats, followed by Lok Janshakti Party which won 6 seats. The Lalu Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal won four seats, while Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JD-U) grabbed two constituencies.

However, it is the ‘mahagathabandhan’ or the grand alliance that is being seen as a major game changer this time. The alliance comprises old allies like the Congress and the RJD, besides new entrants such as Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP, Jitna Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), Sharad Yadav’s Loktrantik Janata Dal (LJD) and the Vikashsheel Insaan Party (VIP), an outfit floated by former Bollywood set designed Mukesh Sahni.

 The grand alliance also seeks to have an electoral understanding with the Left Front, which has three constituents in Bihar the CPI, the CPI (ML) and the CPI (M).

The key constituency of Madhepura will see a triangular contest with caste as a key factor. Madhepura is the place with an adage that has almost taken the form of a folklore, it’s said, “Rome Pope Ka, Madhepura Gope ka (Rome belongs to Pope and Madhepura to a Gope (Yadav).

The triangular contest will take place between Loktrantik Janata Dal chief Sharad Yadav (contesting on the RJD’s ticket), sitting MP and Jan Adhikar Party leader Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav and Bihar minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav.

The sitting MP Pappu Yadav, had turned on a RJD rebel soon after winning in 2014. Thiugh he tried hard to become a nominee of the grand alliance, that could not be possible.

The Madhepura electorate comprises about 5 lakh Yadavs, 2 lakh Muslims, 3 lakh OBC Baniyas, 2 lakh Brahmins and 2.5 lakh EBCs.

During the campaigns, Sharad Yadav has been raising the issues of reservation and accusing the NDA government of “planning to do away with reservation.” He has also said that there will be no elections if PM Modi is voted to power again.

On the other hand, Pappu Yadav has said, “I am like their son and can rush to them in hours of distress while other candidates are outsiders.”

The general pattern followed in Madhepura elections shows a polarisation on caste lines. While the RJD hopes for the Muslim-Yadav combination to work in its favour, the NDA looks to consolidate votes from non-Yadav OBCs, upper castes and Dalits. In 2009, the NDA consolidate votes on this basis. Though the NDA hopes for a similar feat, this time it is set to fight more formidable opponents. JD (U)’s Dinesh Chandra Yadav is seeking votes by talking about development by the state and central governments. Dinesh Chandra Yadav has earlier represented Saharsa which is now part of the Madhepura constituency.

Madhepura has a total voter base of 17,25,578. It covers a large part of Madhepura and Saharsa districts. Yadavs, Brahmins and upper castes call the shots in Madhepura in east Bihar. The Yadavs have determined the results in this constituency.

The other two important constituencies are Ararira and Jhanjharpur.

With a total voter base of 15,87,348, the seat of Araria is held by RJD’s Tasleem Uddin. It covers the entire Araria district. It has a population of 28,11,569 people as per Census 2011. It has 12.07 lakh Muslims residing and an SC population of 382684 people. It receives funding under the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme.

The Jhanjharpur Lok Sabha constituency has 16,50,753 total electors and at present BJP’s Birendra Kumar Chaudhary is the MP. It covers parts of Madhubani district. It receives funding from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme. It has a population of 44,87,379.




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