Bihar polls: NDA, grand alliance evenly placed in Purnea’s seven seats

Purnea (Bihar): Tough multi-cornered contests are not unusual in Purnea, the largest district in Bihar’s north-east. But this time the fight promises to be more intense in all seven seats here with the choice for the voters narrowing down to two big formations – the NDA and the grand alliance involving the ruling Janata Dal(U), the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress. The fact that BJP president Amit Shah would begin his election campaign in the business hub of the Seemanchal region with two more rallies lined up underlines the nature of the electoral contest here.

The caste composition of the region does not provide you a clear hint to the possible preference among voters. Yadavs constitute 20 percent of the population, followed by Rajputs (12 percent) and Brahmins (15 percent). Bhumihars and Kayasthas together form 12 percent, Muslims nine percent and Mahadalits seven percent; the rest includes the extremely backward class (EBC) and the most backward class (MBC). However, the success of the contestants would depend heavily on how well they manage votes across castes.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The assembly constituencies in Purnea are: Purnea Sadar, Kasba, Banmankhi, Amaur, Baisi, Rupauli and Dhamdaha. Looking at the ground situation here both the NDA and the Grand Alliance appear better placed in three seats each. One could swing either way. Here’s a look at how the candidates stand based on interaction with locals.

Purnea Sadar

Since it is a business hub, most of the residents here are migrants. It has a mixed population without domination of a single caste although Marwaris and Baniyas constitute 40-45 percent of the total population.

The BJP has an upper hand in this constituency because of two reasons — large number of cadre votes and majority of the business class. The saffron party has been wining the seat for the past 25 years and this year, it has fielded liquor baron Vijay Khemka against Indu Sinha of the Congress. Khemka has a clean image and enjoys the support of the business community and others and therefore, his winning probability is higher. Sinha is a weak candidate having no strong political career. In addition, Congress has no hold in this constituency.

Though political analysts say the constituency “appears to be an adopted seat of the BJP”, the contest here has always been multi-cornered. CPI(M)’s Ajit Sarkar defeated Sharda Prasad Singh of the Congress in 1980, Kamaldeo Narayan Sinha of Congress in 1985, Ravindra Narayan Singh of Janata Dal in 1990 and Rajesh Ranjan of Samta Party in 1995. He also won for the fifth consecutive term. After his assassination in 1998, his widow Madhwi Sarkar was elected for a period of two years.

She lost the seat to BJP’s Raj Kishore Keshri in the 2000. The latter’s winning spree continued till he was stabbed to death by on 4 January, 2011 by a school teacher, who accused him of raping and sexually exploiting her. After his death, riding on the sympathy wave, his wife Kiran Keshri contested the by-poll and won the seat with a huge margin.

Kasba

There is a direct fight between BJP’s Pradip Das and Mohammed Afaque Alam of Congress with the former having an edge because his work has been impressive. He gets additional benefit of being a Bengali Baniya, the community which constitutes of 25 percent of the total voters there.

Trend shows that votes here are polled in favour of candidate, not his or her party. It increases the winning probability of Das because he is popular among his voters. In the 2010 assembly polls, Alam defeated Das contesting on a BJP ticket. The latter had defeated Alam, who was representing RJD, in October 2005.

Banmankhi

It is a reserved seat for schedule caste where the extremely backward castes and the most backward caste have a larger presence – 30 percent of the population. The other larger social groups are Baniya (25 percent) and Muslims (18 percent).

The contest here is in between the BJP’s Krishna Kumar Rishi and RJD’s Sanjeev Kumar Paswan. But Rishi’s victory is almost certain as he is popular in the constituency for his work, public connect and simplicity.

He had won in 2010 defeating RJD’s Dharmlal Rishi. He defeated RJD’s Kant Lal Rishi and Manorama Devi in October 2005 and February 2005 polls. The seat is being represented by the BJP since 2000 when Deo Narayan Rajak defeated Devi Manorama Devi.

Amour

The constituency has a Muslim population of more than 80 percent but still the seat is being represented by BJP’s Saba Zafar who defeated Abdul Jalil Mastan of the Congress. But this time, he is facing a tough challenge from Abdul Jaleel Mastan because of strong anti-incumbency. His neglect of the area has made his winning chances bleak.

Mastan defeated Zafar, who was representing SP at that time, twice – once as an independent candidate in February 2005 and then as RJD nominee in 2000.

Baisi

It also has a Muslim population of more than 85 percent. The rest includes Yadavs and Mahadalits. Four Muslims are in the fray the seat. They are Haji Subhan from the RJD, Azizur Rahman from Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) – an ally of the NDA, Rukmuddin from Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Manch and Ghulam Sarwar from Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Muslim Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).

But Subhan, who is a sitting MLA from here, appears to have upper hand because electorate is of the view that they tried NDA’s Santosh Kushwaha in the 2010 assembly polls but he failed to fulfil their expectations. After winning, he is never showed up in the area.

He later joined the JD(U) and successfully contested Lok Sabha elections. In the by-poll, Subhan won the seat. Though he too have not done much for the welfare of the constituency, which even lacks basic amenities like hospitals and roads, but he is considered as accessible.

Rupauli

The competition in Rupauli is neck-and-neck and therefore, the seat can go either way. Here, Bima Bharti of the JD(U) is challenging Parmanand Mandal of the RLSP. Both candidates are equally strong because they are Mandals by caste and the constituency has 50 percent population of Mandals and Rajputs. While Muslims constitute 10 percent of the total population in the constituency, Baniyas share stands at 8-10 percent.

Bharti is a sitting MLA from here. She had defeated her nearest rival Shankar Singh of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in the 2010 assembly elections.

She was defeated on February 2005 polls by LJP’s Shankar Singh but the later could not retain the seat in the next election held in the same year in October. Bharti got hold of the seat representing the RJD

In 2000, she had defeated Mohammad Alimuddin of SP, contesting as an Independent candidate. The constituency has been represented by CPI’s Bal Kishor Mandal who had defeated Ram Chandra Das of SP in 1995. In 1980 and 1985, Dinesh Kumar Singh of Congress had defeated Mandal.

Dhamdaha

It is considered as a JD(U) seat because the Nitish-led party has been winning it for consecutive terms. In the 2010 state assembly elections, Leshi Singh of JD(U) had won the constituency by defeating his nearest rival Irshad Ahmad Khan of Congress.

With 15 percent Mandals and rest are Rajputs, Dhamdaha is considered as an upper caste dominating constituency. Singh is a Rajput and she enjoys the support of her caste. Despite the fact that people in her constituency are not at all impressed with her work, they “have no option but to vote in her favour” because the candidate – Shiv Shankar Thakur representing RLSP – is weak and is a new face for the area.


Updated Date: Oct 05, 2015 15:37 PM

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