A strong bond with the past: Why this little known village in Bihar votes only for BJP
When voters in this little known village in north Bihar come out to vote, their fingers hit only one key on the electronic voting machine, that of the BJP.
-The voting choice of the residents of Nawanagar under Alinagar assembly constituency in Darbhanga, is linked to their tryst with political developments many generations ago. It housed the regional headquarters of Jana Sangh, the forerunner of the present day BJP in 1957.
Every member of this village with a population of 3,100 and 1,400 voters is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as well as the BJP irrespective of the caste they belong to.
When the Jan Sangh was spreading its reach after its formation in 1951, residents of this village sold their land and ornaments to collect funds required for the purpose. The small place had represented the entire Darbhanga district (which had jurisdiction over Samastipur and Madhubani at that time) in the first convention of Jan Sangh in 1964 held in Kalikat. Three hundred rupees was a big amount then but the loyalists here had managed to collect that much to send Deena Nath Jha to take part in that meeting.
“The communist government in Kerala had given us a warm welcome and we were greeted with a garland of rose petals measuring 55 kg,” recalls Jha, 87.
When the then Congress government led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru decided to handover West Bengal’s Berubari, Kutch ki Khari (Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat) and Dharawani in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district to Pakistan under the Nehru-Noon Agreement in 1958, the Jan Sangh had launched a nationwide protest. Forty-one people from Darbhanga district, including four from the village, had taken part in that agitation.
“The first decade was a period of steady growth organisationally. It was also a period of policy evolution and ideological elaboration. Jan Sangh took up the issues of territorial integrity and launched a protest against the Nehru government’s decision. We went to Gujarat under the leadership of late Krishna Kant Mishra, the then chief of Bihar wing of the party, and Virendra Jha. We were detained before reaching Kutch and sent back,” says Bachnu Mandal, one of the five persons of the village who took part in the protest.
Firstpost spoke to three of the five persons who founded the Jan Sangh wing in the village and spent their money and time to propagate the party among general masses. Their leader Uma Kant Jha is no more and Virendra Jha was not present in the village when this reporter visited the place.
In 1975, Emergency was imposed and a massive crackdown was launched in Nawanagar. “Our 21 active members were arrested, brutally tortured and sent behind bars in two batches. The first, comprising seven members, was led by late Uma Kant Jha and the second by Brinder Kumar Jha. While the first group got bail after six months, the second came out after four-and-a-half months,” recalls Vishambar Jha.
After their release, the party planned another convention at Samastipur, which at that time was in the jurisdiction of Darbhanga district. But permission was not granted for it. Party workers secretly organised the convention at a school building in the village and 300 people from across the country participated. The district administration got this information after the conclusion of the convention and started harassing the party men from the village.
“Our office building and the venue (the school building) of the conference were bulldozed and the organisers were physically assaulted,” said Vishambar Jha.
The loyal foot soldiers here who have seen change of generations in the party see a sharp change in the party. “During those days, nobody was ready to take responsibility of high positions in the party because accountability was fixed for all their actions. Everyone was committed to the role assigned to them. The discipline was strict and party activists had to follow the commandments of their chiefs. There were no vested interests. Forget about defecting the party on denial of tickets or plum posts in the outfit,” he added.
Though the party members are still BJP-RSS loyalists, but they are unhappy with their leadership’s indifferent approach to their village which has a rich legacy. Despite the fact the village has been declared as ‘Adarsh Gram’ (ideal village) and has been adopted by Darbhanga MP Kriti Jha Azad, most of the roads here are lying unconstructed. There is no middle or high school despite allotment of three acres of land. All the welfare work approved in 2012 are yet to see the lights of the day.
“The BJP should have given someone from the village the ticket for assembly or Lok Sabha polls,” said Deena Nath Jha.
Asked why they vote blindly, they said they vote for the saffron party because it is the “only nationalist party”. “The BJP is the only nationalist party and we vote in its favour because we are patriots,” they added.
The village has a mixed caste population including Brahhmins, Kurmis (also known as Mandals), Mallah (fishermen by profession), Dalits and Mahadalits.