They lost their kids because of government neglect, but they did not shirk from their responsibility.
In July last year, some 23 children of a government primary school in Gandaman village had died after eating midday meal, later found laced with poison.
Almost 10 months later, residents of this village, 100 km northwest of Patna, voted with determination on Wednesday. Gandaman falls under Saran constituency.
“It is true the state government failed to do its duty and this caused our children’s death. But we are not like them. So, we have come out to vote as it is our duty to exercise our franchise,” said Gandaman resident Achilanand Mishra, who lost his son in the midday meal tragedy. Most of those who lost their children in the tragedy last year voted on Wednesday.
Though Saran is witnessing a high-profile contest with former chief minister Rabri Devi in the fray and political tempers running high, the weather was a study in contrast. There was a soft drizzle initially, making it comfortable for early voters. Those queuing up to vote wondered: “Ihan ta Modi lahar ba or iha ta Lalten ba? (Is it a Modi wave or a lantern hurricane here?)” At one booth, a voter said in a hushed tone: “Yehan teer bhi hai (Some here are also voting for the arrow symbol, of the JD-U). Strict monitoring was in place and polling was largely peaceful. Women and first-time voters were enthusiastic to press the button.
At booth number 73 in Taari village under the jurisdiction of Mufassil police station, Maheshwari Nandan Singh (73) said he had voted for change. He wished to see the country progress and a government that is not corrupt. Prof (retired) H.L. Jha echoed him.
At booth number 208 in Dahiyawan Tola, Babita Devi, a widow and mother of five, was voting for the first time. She said she voted for a “good government” that provides ration to the poor, help to the handicapped and security. “The government should not be anti-people,” she said. Her relative Pramod Sah agreed with her and said he had voted for a change in government.
At booth number 135 and 136 in Masumganj and Shyamchak, a Yadav stronghold, Motijhari Devi (76) said the government was non-functional and was not helping the poor. She did not have a ration card, she said.
At booth number 224 in Sadhu Lal High School, Abrar Ali (43) said he wants a government that works for the poor, is development-oriented and not corrupt. At two places in Ekma at Karinga voters boycotted polling saying “No electricity, no road, then no vote.”
Early in the day, returning officer Kundan Kumar and superintendent of police (SP) Sudhir Kumar were seen supervising things at the model booth. They said polling was going on smoothly.
Vishwanath Thakur (45) died of a cardiac arrest around 2pm while queuing up to vote in booth number 69 at Gandaman middle school. Police sources said Thakur suddenly collapsed. The police rushed him to a primary health centre where doctors declared him brought dead. He belonged to Madarpur village under the jurisdiction of Masrak police station. In another incident at booth number 39 in Sonepur, RJD supporters beat up three persons, namely Sikandar Singh (62) Rajnish Kuar and Krishna Rai. Their condition is serious and they have been referred to PMCH. The injured named 20 people as accused in the case