The rotor of a helicopter has just begun revving up and the pilot and his assistant are doing the last minute checks, as the passengers of the aircraft arrive on the tarmac at Patna's Jai Prakash Narayan International Airport. Leader of opposition in Bihar assembly, Sushil Modi, and Bihar BJP president Mangal Pandey board the helicopter and fasten up for the flight, and also for the day ahead.
Their destination: Sasaram in Bihar — the constituency of Congress leader and Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.
For the reserved seat, BJP has a two-point strategy, attack Meira's indifference and absence from the constituency, and try to break away the traditional Brahmin as well as the Kushwaha community supporters of Congress.
In the short-haul flight of about 40 minutes, the view from above the ground is that of a spotless pastoral patch dotted by small villages. There are no industrial chimneys though visible towards either side of the horizon.
After doing a roadshow spanning about 100 kms in the Rohtas district, Modi would be back by 5:30 pm in Patna. The roadshow will cover Sasaram, Sivasagar, Kudra, Bhabhua, Chenari and Mohania.
This has almost been the daily routine for the leader ever since the elections have been announced. He takes his breakfast at 9'o clock on the morning, and comes to the airport.
A cavalcade of at least nine vehicles from the BJP's district unit is waiting eagerly at a school compound where the helicopter lands at about 10:35 am in the outskirts of Sasaram. Thereon, Modi boards an open vehicle aka rath, and all the vehicles follow. His message being clear. "As a member of parliament, how long has she stayed abroad. And how many times has she come to her constituency. People of Sasaram will hold her to answer these issues. We will win all the six seats going to polls in the first phase," he told dna. Sasaram will go to polls on April 10, alongwith adjoining Karakat, Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada and Jamui. "She has not taken a single step to fulfil the dreams of her father Babu Jagjiwan Ram," Modi added.
Chhedi Paswan, who joined BJP from JD(U) recently, and is now the party's candidate against Kumar said, "No work has been done for any section of the society."
Infrastructure and social indicators clearly indicate that the constituency has not benefitted from any representative. But can BJP snatch away Meira Kumar's turf on the basis of mere development rhetoric or is there any other factor in the political underbelly of Sasaram. It would be naive to think that only development card will fetch those precious ballots to BJP. But caste as a factor is also a rather
easy guess, for a state like Bihar. It is the Narendra Modi factor, which seems to be realigning, or say guiding the caste factor in the district. A statement from a resident, Ajay Tiwary explains the undercurrent phenomenon. "No Meira, no Chhedi. Only Narendra Modi," Tiwary said, adding Chhedi Paswan will win because we have to ensure that Narendra Modi wins.
Paswan has almost a lakh votes of himself. Meira had 1,92,000 votes in 2009, down from 4,16,000 in 2004. But a significant aspect is that she will again get the advantage of 2004, when Lalu was in Congress, and will get both Muslim and Yadav communities in addition to her core Dalit voters. In 2009, Congress and RJD contested separately. If only BJP is able to unite Brahmins, Bhumihars, Kayasthas on Modi's name — which seems to be their endeavour — along with Chhedi's own votes, then only could tables turn in favour of BJP.
Meanwhile, almost after four hours of the roadshow, Modi alights the rath and has lunch in car. He brings home cooked food with himself. After another two hours the roadshow ends near Mohania from where he returns to Patna.