In the 6th phase of Lok Sabha polls, land of “Champaran Satyagrah” Purvi Champaran is set to undergo the electoral test. East Champaran is the second most populous district in Bihar, followed by Patna. Its administrative headquarter Motihari borders the north with Nepal.
This constituency came into existence in 2008, following delimitation of the parliamentary constituencies based on the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission of India.
It is a rural constituency with an approximate literacy rate of 58.01%. In 2014, there were 1439253 voters of which 779657 were male and 659560 were female and 36 voters of the third gender. Purvi Champaran has an estimated Scheduled Caste population of 14.17% and a Scheduled Tribe population of 0.15%.
Purvi Champaran Lok Sabha seat has six assembly segments namely- Harsidhi, Govindganj, Kesaria, Kalyanpur, Pipra and Motihari out which BJP is seated on Kalyanpur, Pipra, Motihari while RJD holds Harsidhi, Kesaria assembly segment.
Motihari Lok Sabha constituency after independence was a Congress bastion till years of emergency. Vibhuti Mishra of Congress won five times from this seat but for the first time in 1989, BJP got electoral breakthrough in Radha Mohan Singh’s victory who then was a renowned RSS figure in region.
This election, the battle is between BJP and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP). In 2014, Radha Mohan Singh of BJP won defeating Binod Kumar Srivastava of the RJD. BJP polled 400452 of the total of 822680 votes polled. BJP won the seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections also.
The RLSP, part of the opposition Grand Alliance has fielded Akash Singh, son of senior Congress leader and Ex MP Akhilesh Singh, in East Champaran, ignoring angry protests by party workers in Motihari. There is substantial anger in party rank on candidature of young Akash Singh.
Tussle of caste arithmetic:
Purvi Champaran’s electorate is comprised of 2.75 lakh Bhumihar, 1.75 lakh Khushwaha, 1.50 lakh each Muslim and Vaishya, 1.25 Yadav and 2 lakh Dalit.
Radha Mohan Singh’s past victory (in 2014) margin was over 1.92 lakh votes but this time it seems tough for the veteran leader to repeat his performance and reason remains the anguish among the upper caste Bhumihar vote bank which is considered as natural ally of the BJP. 2014’s victory of Radha Mohan Singh had participation from each caste block.
In exclusive conversation with the Newsd, a veteran RSS functionary on condition of anonymity said, “There’s an inside rift in BJP on Purvi Champaran seat with respect to Radha Mohan Singh’s ill treatment of one community. You may know the fact that in this election Bhumihar community did not get sufficient no. of ticket to fight election where Radha Mohan Singh and Sushil Modi had played an antagonistic role. Giriraj Singh remains an exception. On Purvi Champaran seat, as Akash Singh (RLSP candidate against Radha Mohan Singh) belongs to Bhumihar community, he is expected to get support of BJP’s vote bank.”
If this argument is to be taken in account, even a small chunk of Bhumihar vote i.e. 2.75 lakh vote with Khushwaha, Muslim-Yadav and Dalit which form Mahagathbandhan’s core gamble may give first time contender, Akash Singh an edge over Union Agriculture minister.
As sitting MP Radha Mohan Singh is banking on issues like opening of Krishi Vigyan Kendra at outskirts of Motihari city, Champaran Satyagrah Centenary celebration and Narendra Modi’s development plank. In addition to this he is also batting on previous tally of votes polled by BJP and JDU separately.
In recent interview he said, “Let us take the example of Motihari, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP got 4 lakh votes and the JDU polled 1.28 lakh votes from here the picture becomes very clear.”
2019 battle of Lok Sabha for Purvi Champaran seat between the BJP and RLSP is an interesting episode to acknowledge among 40 seats in Bihar.