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Bihar Elections 2020: Ace shooter Jamui looks to win gold

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Patna, Oct 21: She hit the bullseye winning the Commonwealth Games shooting gold in 2018, but securing the pole position on her maiden election outing may not be an easy task for Shreyasi, the daughter of former Union minister Digvijay Singh, as she faces a formidable opposition in RJD strongman Vijay Prakash.

The 29-year-old ace shooter joined the BJP early this month and was soon nominated for the Jamui seat which votes in the first phase on October 28.

Bihar Elections 2020: Ace shooter Jamui looks to win gold

The seat has become a high-profile one for two reasons, firstly because of the presence of a sports personality of international repute, and second because it falls under Jamui Lok Sabha constituency of LJP president Chirag Paswan, who has disassociated himself from the NDA in Bihar and going solo.

The Jamui assembly constituency is witnessing a multi-corner contest among Singh, RJD's Vijay Prakash, saffron party rebel Ajay Pratap from the RLSP, besides some Independents.

Bihar Elections 2020: Assembly wise schedule, date of polling and counting

A look at the existing social matrix shows that Rajputs and Yadavs are almost equal in numbers in the constituency that has over 2.91 lakh electorates.

While the BJP's nominee is a Rajput, her principal opponent is a Yadav.

The constituency also has a significant population of Muslims, Dalits, including Paswans, the support base of the LJP, Extremely Backward, Backward and other forward castes including Brahmins and Bhumihar.

Vijay Prakash (49), the sitting MLA is brother of Prasad close associate and former union minister Jay Prakash Narayan Yadav. He also served as minister in the Grand Alliance government in 2015.

Due to the presence of Ajay Pratap and Sumit Kumar Singh, son of former state minister Narendra Singh, Rajput votes could see a division to the disadvantage of Shreyasi Singh.

But, some other factors are working in her favour.

Besides being a young and a popular sports figure, she is one among the two women candidates on the seat - the other is an Independent.

Shreyasi Singh is also enjoying support of Chirag Paswan's LJP cadre. Chirag has not fielded his nominee on the seat and has expressed good wishes to his "younger sister" and appealed to the party workers to support her. Paswans population in the constituency is over 35,000.

In addition, Dalit mushars (that literally translates as rat-eaters), whose count is around 20,000 in the constituency, are also inclined towards her as its leader Jitan Ram Manjhi is a partner in the NDA.

The Dalits and other poor sections of the society, locally known as "Pachpuniya" (combination of downtrodden castes) are rooting for her because they are ardent supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

They said the Centre has provided free foodgrains to the poor during COVID-19 pandemic, three gas cylinders free of cost and Rs 500 in Jan Dhan accounts.

"We will support whosoever is the representative of Modi," Matloo Rajak, a native of Naukadih village said

Arvind Thakur of neighbouring Bithalpur village echoed.

Gender is also a positive factor for her. Many women of even Yadav caste are rooting for Shreyasi Singh.

"Let the men of our family vote for a Yadav male, we will support 'beana' (sister) Shreyasi in this election," Renu Yadav of Lathane village said.

Sulochana Devi, also of the same caste, spoke on the similar lines.

Vijay Prakash is relying on the "MY" (Muslim Yadav) combination, which has proved to be a winning formula for the Lalu Prasad-led RJD in multiple elections.

But, problem for him is that there is a popular Muslim Independent candidate who is eating into his minority votes. Prakash had also won the seat in 2005 but lost it in 2010.

But, locals complaint of a lack development in the area. "There are no industrial units, no irrigation facility, schools don't have requisite number of teachers and people are forced to migrate out to earn livelihoods," said a resident.

At Jamui's Kachahari Chowk, a group of youths almost routinely discusses global and local issues.

"They have worked on road and electricity in the past years, but education and migration for jobs are biggest problem," said Naveen Raj, one of the participant.

Deepankar of Sikandra constituency's Dipakarhar village agreed. He also highlighted the problem of irrigation. "There is Garhi dam under the upper Kiul Jalashay Yojana, but farmers still face problem," he said.

Shreyasi Singh agreed migration is a major issue here.

She said she wants to become the face of Prime Minister Narendra Modis "Aatmanirbhar" (self-reliant) India initiative and work towards creating employment opportunities so that people are not forced to go outside to earn a livelihood.

RJD candidate Vijay Prakash said youths are demanding jobs but the government is just making hollow promises.

Though a greehorn in politics, Shreyasi is toiling hard to win peoples support. She would leave home and tour village after village through the day seeking blessings of the elders and support of youths.

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    She told PTI-Bhasha, she wants to establish a sports authority here to make sports competitive and professional in Bihar.

    As per the voter list of 2019, there are 2,91,056 electorates in this constituency. Voter turnout was 56.6 per cent in 2019 Lok Sabha elections whereas it was 56.5 per cent in the 2015 assembly elections.

    Rejecting suggestions that the poll percentage might see a dip due to surging Covid-19 cases, many voters of the constituency said they would cast the ballot taking all precautions.

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