Wish for powerful hubbies remains a reality in rural India. For some, an influential man in life means empowerment. It doesn’t make a difference to a few, though.
The lifestyle of two women having the blessings of two powerful men (at least at some point of time) is like chalk and cheese. First, Krishna Kumari Yadav. The second wife of muscleman Ranvir Yadav is the RJD candidate in the Khagaria Lok Sabha seat, around 165km east of Patna.
The other: Raj Kumari Devi, the first wife of LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, whom he claimed to have divorced over 30 years ago.
Krishna is on the poll pitch, backed by Ranvir and his first wife Poonam Devi. The trio live under one roof happily.
Surprised? Then take this: Krishna and Poonam are sisters.
Yet, each one is a part of a happy family. Both happy to have the backing of muscleman Ranvir.
Poor Raj Kumari — the estranged wife of Paswan — has no such luck. She has not seen her powerful hubby for long.
Yet, the docile rural woman, a resident of Shaharbanni village, about 32km from Khagaria town, is happy for Paswan — a “powerful leader in New Delhi”.
While Paswan is miles away from his first wife, Ranvir is working hard to ensure the victory of his second wife Krishna, a state-level sprinter earlier. The muscleman had made it clear that if the JD(U) did not field Krishna in the Khagaria Lok Sabha seat, she would not hesitate to contest on another party’s ticket.
Ranvir stuck to his word. The RJD chief, Lalu Prasad, gave Krishna the ticket.
The muscleman was all smiles to see his first wife Poonam, the suspended JD(U) MLA, campaigning for Krishna. Nitish Kumar’s party was forced to take action against her for canvassing for a candidate other than the JD(U)’s — the sitting MP, Dinesh Chandra Yadav.
“Like Poonam, Krishna also does not have a political background. Her political identity is that she is the wife of Ranvir. She was made the chairman of the Khagaria district board because of this identity. She can hardly speak. She is wedded to a family which is known in the crime world,” said a resident of Khagaria.
Ranvir, who hogged the limelight in September 2012 when he snatched a gun from a constable and brandished it openly to disperse the para-teachers waving black flags at Nitish during his Adhikar Yatra, is behind Krishna like a rock.
In contrast, Paswan’s first wife Raj Kumari hardly enjoyed the backing of her powerful hubby ever. In an affidavit furnished with the nomination papers to the Election Commission for contesting the Hajipur seat, Paswan mentioned Reena Paswan as his wife. Politicians of Patna could not recall if they saw Raj Kumari when Paswan got his daughter from his first marriage married off about seven years ago.
Meeting Raj Kumari is an uphill task. Guarded by Paswan’s kin, she is happy with the ownership of a house and the land she looks after. “Her only grudge is that Paswan does not meet her,” said a close aide of Paswan.
Cut to lucky Krishna. Besides elder sister Poonam, she is banking on the muscle power of her husband Ranvir, who has served life imprisonment in the Taufir massacre case in which nine persons were killed in the mid-1980s.
Krishna is locked in a triangular fight with the BJP-backed LJP candidate Chaudhary Mahboob Ali Kaiser and sitting JD(U) MP Dinesh in Khagaria.
Dinesh is heavily banking on Nitish’s development work and the party’s social base of Mahadalits and Extremely Backward Classes.
Ashok Mahanth, a Yadav who runs a tea shop at Alauli Chowk, said: “Nitish has built the Khagaria-Alauli road, which was a difficult terrain to negotiate. We should vote for him for his development work. Above all, he has Mahadalit votes which are like chuppa (silent) votes.”
Dinesh, the JD(U) nominee, said: “We have done several works without favouring anyone. The Nitish government built a bridge over the Bagmati river to reach Paswan’s village Shaharbanni.”
True, the bridge has connected Shaharbanni. But the electricity is still a distant dream. Shaharbanni residents say Nitish has deliberately ignored its electrification. They believe if Paswan becomes a minister in the Centre, the village would be electrified. With hopes high, they would vote for the LJP’s Kaiser, a former president of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee. He left the Congress just after it sealed a poll deal with the RJD. Lalu gave 12 seats to the Congress but did not spare Khagaria, which Kaiser had been eyeing. Paswan, in search of a Muslim face, gave ticket to him from Khagaria, where Yadavs have largely rallied behind Krishna.
The move might not fetch LJP the minority votes, though. Mohammad Nazir, 75, a tailor, said: “Modi ko rokne ke liye humlog ek seat Musalman ka gawan sakte hai… (We can sacrifice one seat going to a Muslim candidate to stop Modi’s surge…). Eighty to 90 per cent of Muslims would vote for the RJD despite Kaiser being a decent man because he unfortunately has the BJP support,” Nazir says.
The decent man has the backing of Paswan. Poor Raj Kumari has lost it long ago.
l Khagaria votes today