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Economic prosperity throws up challenge in hustings
- Skill development centre set up by Dal candidate benefits hundreds of youths land in West Asian countries

Amathuwan, a village of landless people in the Buxar Lok Sabha constituency, scripts economic success with the average monthly income of a family running into six digits.

One has to travel 5-6km from Dumraon sub-divisional headquarters to see the prosperity flourishing in 100 and odd houses of this otherwise nondescript village, around 130km west of Patna.

This economic miracle has not taken years to grow. Prosperity knocked at the door of the villagers when Shyamlal Singh Kushwaha started exporting workforce to Dubai and other Gulf countries. The visionary lad of a landless backward caste family, Kushwaha today runs a job placement centre in Mumbai. Faced with a glut of small-time professionals, Kushwaha has also set up a training centre in Buxar to train semi-skilled villagers to professionals.

Kushwaha (59) is trying his luck in the general elections on the ticket of Janata Dal (United) from Buxar Lok Sabha constituency. Last time, he had contested the election as a Bahujan Samaj Party candidate and was placed third after Lal Muni Choubey of the BJP. Though the BSP has no solid base in the constituency, which once was represented by veteran Communist leader Surya Narayan Yadav, the party has been fielding candidates in all elections with an aim to grow its popularity. Proximity to Uttar Pradesh, local villagers say, is a major factor for the BSP to field candidates from this seat.

Kushwaha deserted the BSP and later joined the BJP in 2013. He, however, switched his loyalty to the JD(U) and joined the party in February this year. “Kushwaha’s contribution in shaping the careers of thousands of jobless youths in his native village and its neighbouring areas will certainly pay off. He has supporters in each house in Dumraon block. It’s because of his job placement centre that he had scored votes over 1.27 lakh in the 2009 general elections,” said Ramadhar Singh, a diehard RJD worker.

Kushwaha gained popularity in the Shahabad region because of his job placement centre in Mumbai, which used to export hundreds of youths and middle-aged men from the region to the Gulf. “You can’t find a single family, which doesn't have a member employed abroad either as a skilled or unskilled labourer. The prosperity of Amarthuwan can be gauged from the fact that the people belonging to backward castes have started purchasing the land of upper castes mainly those of Thakurs (read Rajputs),” Singh said.

Kushwaha, in his affidavit filed before the Election Commission, revealed that he owned assets worth over Rs 8 crore.

After Kushwaha distanced himself from Mayawati's BSP, the party fielded Dadan Singh Pahalwan as its official nominee this time. Dadan, who belongs to the dominant Yadav caste of Dumraon Assembly segment, is working hard to win the confidence of his brethren, who constituted over 15 per cent of the 15.93 lakh voters. Being a candidate of the BSP, which has its influence in the rank and file of the extremely backward classes, Dadan (52) may dent into the EBC votes.

The BJP has fielded Ashwini Kumar Choubey (61), the health minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet before last year’s break-up. The recent statement of Narendra Modi, is believed to have also gone in favour of Ashwini. “Mein aapke sukh-dukh se judna chatha hun. Main aapke karib aa gaya hun (I want to connect myself with your happiness and sorrow. I have come close to you),” Modi said at an election rally while making special reference to Varanasi from where he is contesting. Varanasi has its old connection with Buxar. People prefer to send their wards to the Banaras Hindu University rather than any other places in the state. Moreover, the residents visit the hospital in Varanasi for treatment.

It’s a million-dollar question whether Buxar, which has its historical importance as two important battles — Battle of Buxar and Battle of Chausa — were fought on the land in the past, will be represented by a new face in the Lok Sabha or repeat its history.

Buxar votes today