Bihar polls: Pappu Yadav may queer pitch for NDA and Grand Alliance in Kosi

Saharsa (Bihar), Nov 4: Renowned Bihari litterateur Phanishwar Nath Renu of 'Maila Aanchal' fame had unsuccessfully contested the Bihar assembly election in 1972, raising the issues of flood, drought and migration about which he also wrote in his famous book 'Teesri Kasam urf Mare Gaye Gulfam'.

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The problems raised by Renu in the book, later turned into a film by Basu Bhattacharya, still exist in the Kosi region of Bihar. But these are no longer election issues in the current state assembly polls.

Pappu Yadav may queer pitch for NDA

The region, comprising 13 assembly segments that include Saharsa, Madhepura and Supaul districts, is where Pappu Yadav is hoping to score with his new political outfit, the Jan Adhikar Party.

The region is traditionally a weak spot for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Despite the Modi wave in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the party could not win any of the three seats. Even in an alliance with the Janata Dal-United, the BJP could win only one assembly constituency in 2010 -- Saharsa.

This time around, the BJP is hoping to do well, expecting a division in Yadav votes because of Pappu Yadav's presence in the fray. In 2014, Rajesh Ranjan, better known as Pappu Yadav, had defeated JD-U president Sharad Yadav, who dominated the Kosi politics for a long time. Pappu Yadav had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 by a Central Bureau of Investigation court for the murder of union leader Ajit Sarkar. But in 2013, the Patna High Court acquitted him of the charges for lack of evidence.

Pappu Yadav has joined, and exited, several parties, sometimes being expelled from some. He floated his Jan Adhikar Party earlier this year.

"Overall social equation of the region is in favour of the Grand Alliance, but Pappu Yadav factor can't be ruled out. He may not win a single seat but may prove to be a game spoiler for the Grand alliance," Dr. Amardeep Yadav, a resident of Madhepura, told IANS.

There are those, though, who say Pappu Yadav's presence would not make too much of a difference.

Professor Sunil Yadav of K.V. Women's College says, "Pappu Yadav has been exposed in this election. Everyone knows he is roaming around the region in a helicopter. Who is funding him? Yadavs are not fools."

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Some like Ajay Kumar, a teacher in Supaul, say it's not easy to say which way the voters will go.

"Yadavs of the region are divided among themselves. Pappu Yadav's significant presence in the region will also affect the voters. RJD chief Lalu Prasad has his own supporters and so has Sharad Yadav. Picture is not yet clear," the teacher said.

In Murliganj of the Bihariganj assembly segment, the focus, though, is on jobs, not caste.

At a tea stall, Sudhir Yadav says pointing to his two other friends: "We are all looking for jobs. We had applied for position of IT operators at block level. All of us were selected but no joining letter has come for a year now."

Sitting next to him, Rohan Gupta says: "What will we do? The sugar mill of Banmankhi in adjoining Purnia district was closed and this has affected sugarcane production. The Vyapar Mandal of the region is not working as the jute industry is almost closed. Condition of Baijnath paper mill is pathetic. But the political parties are busy in caste consolidation."

The third friend, Mukund Kumar Mishra adds: "Chunav atey aur jatey hai. Har koi vikas ki baat karata hai. Lekin dharatal par shunya hai yahan. Koi bhi jeetey, kucch nahi hone wala. (Elelctions come and go. Everyone talks about development but on the ground there is zero. Whoever wins, nothing is going to happen)."

The BJP is contesting seven seats in the region, leaving four for Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party and one each for Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha, its NDA partners.

Among the Grand Alliance members, the JD-U is contesting eight seats leaving five for the RJD.

Pappu Yadav's party, though is contesting 12 seats, except for the Supaul assembly constituency. His wife, Ranjita Ranjan, had lost this assembly seat in 2010, though she won the parliamentary constituency in the area on the Congress ticket in 2014.

The Kosi region will vote on November 5, in the last phase of the five-phase elections.

Despite the frustration of many youth in the area, it's not clear what form the voting pattern will take. The Pappu Yadav factor, though, appears to be queering the pitch for many.


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