Araria, April 29: Nazrul, 30, clad in a vest and lungi sits with his neighbours under a tree in a kasba on the Araria-Purnea road and raises his finger to show his mud hut 700m away. We do not have a hand pump and no drinking water. There is no electricity in our village. My children roast in the sun and drench in the rains as our house is open from all sides, Nazrul said.
Other residents of Jamanpur Barial village join in. The village comprises very poor Oraon tribes and Muslims and it has not been sanctioned a single house under the Indira Awas Yojna, said a senior resident of the village.
Despite their condition, Nazrul and his neighbours will vote perhaps proving the perception that Bihars villages are more politically conscious and turn up to vote in far greater numbers than the urban middle class.
We hope to vote out Sukhdeo Paswan, the Araria MP, who has failed to fulfil his promises of giving us Bipasa, said Bandi Oraon. No, he wasnt talking about an actress, but was referring to the abbreviation of bijli, paani and sadak that is there on every villagers lips in the Kosi belt, comprising five Lok Sabha constituencies.
In fact, this abbreviated word connotes the main issue dominating the hinterlands of Bihar 11 going to the polls tomorrow.
While politicians deal with high-voltage issues, Bihar voters are disdainfully rejecting issues dealing with Quattrocchi, Bofors, Indian money in Swiss Banks and terrorism.
Arun Kumar Yadav, a matriculate and a resident of Pinagra village in Khagaria constituency, said: Phaltu baat se kya phaida (What is the use of worthless chatter)? What matters is that some landed people in our village have got BPL cards and free grain, whereas land-less people like us have been denied.
The Telegraph did not come a villager on the 400km Kishenganj-Purnea-Khagaria-Begusarai and Patna highway and 200km Bhagalpur-Munger-Patna highway who was ready to discuss terrorism, Swiss Banks or Bofors on which the Prime-Ministers-in-waiting are stretching their vocal chords.
The only national issue that a handful of Muslim voters or a section of Hindu voters discuss sparingly is whether the BJP going back to its aggressive Hindutva plank and if L.K. Advani should replace Manmohan Singh.
Some voters do appear divided on communal lines in certain hinterlands of riot-torn Bhagalpur, besides Katihar, Purnea and Kishenganj (where Muslims can match the numerical strength of the Hindus).
Again like in the previous few phases — caste, Nitish Kumar-led government sponsored development, roads and bridges — voters are invariably referring to these in the village chowpal (centre).
Economist and director of Asian Development Research Institute, Patna, Saibal Gupta explained: There are two types of states in India — sunrise states and sunset states. The sunset states such as Bihar are not integrated at all with the market economy and international industrial grid. Thats why people are not concerned with such as black money, Swiss Banks or Quattrochhi.
Saibal, however, pointed out that these issues of course have potential to swing the electoral balance in the sunrise states such as Maharastra, Gujarat and Kanataka that are integrated better to the market economy and international industrial grid.
The tragedy is that top-rung leaders are cut off from the grassroots in states such as Bihar. When they speak here, the politicians make a big fool of themselves.
Last lap for Bihar polls
- Munger, Banka, Bhagalpur, Begusarai, Khagaria, Purnea, Madhepura, Araria, Supaul,
Katihar & Kishenganj
going to polls on April 30
- In the fray: Sharad Yadav (JD-U, Madhepura)
- Shanti Priya
Independent & mother of Pappu Yadav, Purnea)
- Ranjita Ranjan (wife
of Pappu Yadav &
Congress nominee in
- Shah Nawaz Hussein