Sukhia Devi, 60, quietly sitting on a country boat ferrying passengers from Khagaria town to Alauli, a hinterland in the district surrounded by many rivers, has no time to think about the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.
“Bahut dikkat hai jeevan mein (life is full of troubles),” is all she is willing to say when probed about the public mood amid polls.
Polling in Khagaria parliamentary constituency is on April 23, just two days away, but the mood here is downcast.
Seventy-five years after independence, Khagaria is still struggling with squalour, poverty, floods and migration. In predominately maize belt where corn production is the main source of livelihood, farmers are a bit worried this time due to the recent squall, which has damaged standing crops in good measure.
“For last many years, we have not received reasonable prices of maize, though it is more profitable than conventional crops. We are worried about the produce this time due to damage of crops owing to the squall,” says Sanjeev Kumar, a farmer in Sadar block of Khagaria.
Besides his field, Kumar also keeps a keen eye on politics.
“The winner would be decided by how Yadavs vote this time, along with the EBCs and Muslims, who comprise the main vote bank,” he says, while also conceding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also a factor.
In Khagaria, the main contenders are sitting LJP MP Chaudhary Mehmoob Ali Kaiser and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) chief Mukesh Sahni, who is fighting polls for the first time. Sahni, who belongs to fishermen community, calls himself “Son of Mallah”.
In 2014, Kaiser edged past his rivals, JD(U)’s Dinesh Chandra Yadav and the RJD’s Krishna Yadav, as Yadav votes suffered a split. This time, however, there is no Yadav candidate in the fray, also a cause of resentment among the Yadav voters
Baban Singh Kushwaha of Chautham locality feels Sahni might pose a serious challenge to Kaiser if he manages to woo Muslim and Yadav voters along with Nishads, his own community which constitutes a sizable chunk among the EBCs.
Apr 21, 2019 10:05 IST
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