| The house of Bismillah Khan in Dumraon. Telegraph picture |
Bismillah Khan is still the best bait for vote-seekers in this sleepy town but would not be anymore, at least in this year’s general elections.
For leaders across political colours, using the name of the shehnai maestro turned out to be electoral success for years.
In 1994, Lalu Prasad laid the foundation stone of a town hall named Bismillah, who was born here in 1913. In 2006, chief minister Nitish Kumar also announced the construction of a museum and installation of a life-size statue of the ustad, who died on August 21 that year.
People regret that the marble plaque that once adorned the foundation of proposed town hall-cum-library could not be found anywhere around it. An officer of the Old police station where the plaque is gathering dust in a corner said: “We cannot use it as a table top also as there is an inscription on it.”
With the Lok Sabha elections hardly months away, people hope that leaders who come here would not forget to recall Bismillah. But this time, they have decided not to keep mum over it.
“Jab politicians ko Bismillah jaisi hasti ko bhulte der nahin lagti to fir wo kaise hum aam janata ko yaad rakh paayenge? Ye toh sirf apna kaam nikaalane aate hain aur phir kabhi bhi iski sudh nahi lete kiunhon ne kya announce kiya tha (When these politicians do not remember such big personalities, how will they keep their promises made before us)?” said Ajit Singh, a resident of Dumraon.
“Even the local MLA, Dawood Ali, who successfully contested from the Dumraon seat last time, could not raise his voice on this matter. There is a vast resentment against him as he never comes to take stock of the people’s problems,” said Ifteekar Ahmed, a businessman. The minorities are only shown lollypops during elections and nothing happens after their victories, he added.
“Earlier, we were confident that Sukhda Pandey, the BJP MLA from Buxar and the former youth affairs and culture minister, would initiate some action to get the museum ready but she too proved to be useless regarding this,” said a resident on condition of anonymity.
Shamim Hashmi, a local resident, said politicians have to face tough questions during the Lok Sabha poll campaign as why Bismillah, who left the town when he was only six years old, was put as bait for the innocent voters.