In October last year, residents of Shamsher Nagar village in Bihar's Karakat Lok Sabha constituency had pasted 'missing' posters of their MP, ruling JD(U)'s Mahabali Singh. Taking a jibe at him, they now say that nobody seems to have found Singh.
In the three constituencies of Karakat, Aurangabad and Gaya, which will go to polls today, people are pitted against circumstances such as absentee representative and minimal development. It is likely that Narendra Modi's appeal will give the party an upper hand here even though the BJP was the JD(U)'s alliance partner in the state.
Karakat, a Kushwaha dominant constituency, is bracing for a tough fight between NDA's Upendra Kushwaha and RJD's Kanti Singh. JD(U)'s Mahabali Singh is also in the fray, but faces stiff anti-incumbency.
Shamsher Nagar village resident Manjay Kumar, said the government school in the area is in a pathetic condition. As a result, locals send their children to private schools in Daudnagar, which is at least 10km away. Another residet, Manoranjan Sharma, who runs a small shop on NH98 connecting Patna, told dna: "The biggest issue is that of the highway. It is in a very poor condition. Is this a national highway?
Accidents keep happening here. The highway should have been widened a long time ago."
Both Kumar and Sharma belong to the Bhumihar community — BJP's core voters — and say they will vote for the party. They predict that many communities will vote for the BJP. "Is bar target Narendra Modi hai. (This time our target is to make Narendra Modi the prime minister). And not only us, communities across segments will vote for the BJP. You will even find some Yadavs preferring the BJP over Lalu," said Sharma.
But why will Bihar's Yadavs, who have been staunch supporters of RJD's Lalu Yadav, vote for BJP? "There is only one thing that is attracting Yadavs to the BJP — policy of minority appeasement," explained Vijay Yadav, a former mukhiya (??) in Daudnagar of Karakat constituency. "People do not appreciate the Congress' policy and RJD's rhetoric. In fact, the Yadavs are not even excited about the election. A section will shift towards the BJP."
The party will also get an edge because of its NDA partner, Ram Vilas Paswan. Extremely backward classes will vote for the Lok Janshakti Party. But will the party work for their betterment if the NDA comes to power? Jnaneshwar Ji of Paswan Toli in Karakat does not know but will vote for the LJP nevertheless. "All other areas have pukka roads, we do not have one and so face many problems during the rainy season.
Our children attend government schools, but there are no teachers there. No new colonies have been made for us. There is no community hall for either," said Jnaneshwar Ji.
In neighbouring Aurangabad, even as development has taken a back seat, the clash is between two personalities — Congress' Nikhil Kumar Singh and BJP's Sushil Kumar. Both are Rajputs, the most influential caste in the constituency.
Shiv Kumar, a resident of Konch village in Aurangabad, told dna: "Unemployment is huge. Sushil Kumar (the JD-U MP who is now contesting on a BJP ticket) has not done anything in the area. But I think Narendra Modi should become the PM."
Sitting next to Shiv Kumar is Md Parvez, who says the Congress' Nikhil Kumar will win the Aurangabad seat.
In Gaya too, the BJP is banking on the LJP alliance to retain the seat; this is the first time after five Parliamentary seats that the BJP is contesting here. In the reserved seat, three candidates from the same caste, BJP's Hari Majhi, RJD's Ramji Majhi and JD (U)'s Jitan Ram Majhi will contest for the seat.
Ram Prasad, an agricultural labourer in Gaya, told dna: "Mai chunav ka bahishkar karunga. I will not vote for anyone." Others nod in approval at a tea shop near Gaya railway station.