As Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar faces biggest challenge in fortress Nalanda

Nitish Kumar is probably fighting his toughest election as chief minister in his fortress in Nalanda and adjoining districts. It is difficult to find someone who disputes his claims of building roads and establishing the rule of law in the state, ...

Bihar polls 2020: When Nitish Kumar spoke about Lalu Prasad Yadav
NALANDA: Nitish Kumar is probably fighting his toughest election as chief minister in his fortress in Nalanda and adjoining districts. It is difficult to find someone who disputes his claims of building roads and establishing the rule of law in the state, but it is equally challenging to find too many people who are enthusiastic about him becoming the state’s next CM.

“I am very angry with Nitish, but I will vote for JD(U) because of Modi and the local candidate,” says Bittu Kumar, a fish farmer in Karva village in Patna district. His reason for voting for him is a local member of his own Bhumihar caste, who according to him is available in times of need. Similarly Umakant Sharma is voting for JD(U)’s Rahul Kumar because of his caste affiliation. “Nitish did a lot for Nalanda, while we were deprived of water. Despite this, I’m voting for JD(U) because of the candidate,” he said.

Catch all the news and more on Bihar Polls on this page


In four of the district’s seven seats — Asthawan, Islampur, Nalanda and Harnaut — JD(U) won in 2015 and 2010. In 2015, it also won at Rajgir, while Hilsa went to RJD. “Everyone is voting on caste lines. Why shouldn’t we vote for a candidate of our caste,” says Parmeshwear Prasad of Kalabigha village in Islampur constituency in Nalanda, who is going to vote for the RLSP candidate. “There is too much of afsarsahi (bureaucracy) in his government,” says Khushlendra Kumar. Both Prasad and Kumar are Kushwaha by caste and claim to have voted for Nitish in the last poll. “Even to get a bed in a government hospital in Patna, you have to pull strings and members from your caste help in that,” says Prasad when asked why caste plays such a dominant role in their electoral choices.

Nitish’s social engineering of forward castes and many non-Yadav OBC castes, non-Paswan Dalits and Muslim voters, is not as solid as before in this area

-Losing Ground


In Islampur constituency, Bishnupur village is inhabited by the Bind community, a caste that works as farm labour. “Our farming land is on the other side of the Falgu river and nobody ever thinks of building a small bridge,”says Mahesh Prasad. “We voted for Nitish but this time we will vote for change,” said Manoj Kumar, who works as a bus conductor. While the other castes are either undecided or claim to be voting for Nitish because of local candidates or his alliance with BJP, the CM finds strong support in his own community. Santosh Kumar of Nischalganj, who belongs to the CM’s caste, says Nitish will remain undefeated in Nalanda. Similarly, Shishupal Kumar, who too is a kurmi from Parwalpur in Hilsa constituency, says Nalanda is Nitish’s fortress. Rajo Singh, a retired government worker from Papurnaisa in Nalanda constituency, however, disagrees. “The fortress might get breached this time,” he says and expresses his support for Kaushlendra Kumar (Chote Mukhiya) who is contesting on the ticket of Jantantrik Vikas Party.

Jahangir Rehman and Shafi Ahmed of Rajgir constituency will vote for Congress. They were Nitish supporters, but felt betrayed after his stance on CAA and NRC.
ADVERTISEMENT

While predicting the outcome of a poll is a mug’s game, a visit to Nalanda establishes few broad trends. It seems that Nitish’s social engineering in which he gained supporters from forward castes because of his alliance with BJP and from many non-Yadav OBC castes, non-Paswan Dalits and Muslim voters, is not as solid as before. While people acknowledge his achievement in building roads, improving power supply and establishing law and order, the scarcity of access to basic public services like schools and hospitals as well as the tardy implementation of government schemes means that people still depend on caste-based patronage networks. That dominates their electoral preferences. With changing alliance partners, some caste-based affiliations also seem to have shifted away. There is also anger among male voters against prohibition. They say liquor is easily available and the government is losing revenue while bootleggers are minting a fortune.
Download
The Economic Times Business News App
for the Latest News in Business, Sensex, Stock Market Updates & More.
Download
The Economic Times News App
for Quarterly Results, Latest News in ITR, Business, Share Market, Live Sensex News & More.
READ MORE
ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE:

LOGIN & CLAIM

50 TIMESPOINTS

Related Companies

More from our Partners

Loading next story
Text Size:AAA
Success
This article has been saved

*

+