| LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan interacts with voters at a polling station in Hajipur on Wednesday. (PTI) |
Democracy won over death threat in a Hajipur village on voting day.
Men and women queued up at Thathan Bujurg village defying a Maoist call to boycott the polls.
Thathan, around 26km north of Patna and part of Hajipur Lok Sabha constituency in Vaishali district, deserves kudos. The man issuing the writ, Musafir Sahni, belongs to the village and is a self-styled sub-zonal commander of the CPI(Maoist).
A few months ago, the village had been a witness to the brutal murder of an influential landlord Harish Singh. The Maoists killed him for defying the diktats of the banned outfit. The decision to punish Singh was taken at a kangaroo court held at the village and subsequently executed.
Earlier, around 20 public representatives, including the mukhiya (panchayat head) of Thathan Ekhari panchayat Ramdhan Paswan, were warned of dire consequences for allegedly siphoning off public funds meant for the welfare of the people belonging to the economically backward community. The residents, however, came out in large numbers from their houses to cast their vote on Wednesday. The impressive voter turnout at the two polling booths (numbers 41 and 41A) on the premises of Thathan Bujurg government primary school, however, tells a different story.
Till 9.30am (about two-and-a-half hours after the polling started) 178 votes were cast at polling booth number 41 and 172 votes at polling booth number 41A respectively. Both the booths had 871 and 875 eligible electorates respectively. “It’s a fact that the two booths were the most sensitive ones in the constituency. But polling was peaceful. Central paramilitary forces (personnel of Sashastra Seema Bal) have been deployed to ensure free, fair and peaceful poll,” said patrolling magistrate Sumit Kumar.
Panic was writ large on the faces of polling and security personnel. “It’s a matter of relief that Musafir and his family members — Dilip Sahni (nephew) and Chandan (son) — are also lodged in jail. Had they been out of the four walls of the prison, the situation would have been different,” said a supporter of Sahni, who is lodged in Motihari Jail.
The scene at the polling booth at Hajipur Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya took a curious turn after a ward councillor Baidyanath Mahto was accused of distributing money among the voters. As soon as the news about the incident was flashed by a news channel, a host of senior police and administrative officers rushed to the spot.
The woman, Bhawani Devi, who was allegedly given money by Mahto to favour Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan, (who is contesting on an LJP ticket) was summoned by the sub-divisional officer (SDO) Somesh Bahadur Mathur at the polling station. The woman, however, denied the charge and claimed that nobody had ever approached her or coaxed her to vote in favour of any particular candidate. “I am ready to face any inquiry,” she told the SDO.
Paswan hit out at parties raising slogans of secularism and expressed concern over growing differences between Hindus and Muslims because of votebank politics. “All those who are raising slogans of secularism are not working in favour of minorities,” he said without naming any party. The former Union minister is pitted against Ram Sundar Das of the JD(U) and Sanjiv Prasad Toni of the Congress.
Ujiarpur Lok Sabha constituency also witnessed a heavy turnout. Youths turned up in large number at a polling booth located on the premises of Gaura government upgraded middle school, which falls under Patepur Assembly segment. “We want job and a stable government at the centre,” said Raju Kumar Singh, a first-time voter.