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Ground Report: Banka Lok Sabha seat, a triangular fight with caste factor as key determinant

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Ground Report: Banka Lok Sabha seat, a triangular fight with caste factor as key determinant

As the second phase of Lok Sabha election is just a day away, Banka seat has 20 candidates in fray but the battle seems revolving only around three candidates, Girdhari Yadav of the JDU, Jai Praksah Narayan Yadav of the RJD and Putul Kumari an independent candidate.

In Bihar, any sort of election will have to undergo a process of determining social engineering of existing castes.

Banka is a rural constituency with population of more than 20 lakhs, 58.17% literacy and with near two thousand villages. It has six assembly segments- Sultanganj, Amarpur, Dhoraiya, Banka, Katoria, Belhar out of which JDU has won four seats in 2015. Dhoraiya and Katoria are reserved for candidates belonging to the marginalized sections of the society.

Banka district, whose headquarters is the Banka town, is part of the Bhagalpur division.

Covering an expansive area of 3,019 square kilometers and with a total population of 20,29,339 it is considered the rice Bowl of the state, the Banka district is reliant on an agrarian economy, and the primary crops grown are rice, wheat, lentils and corn.

Interestingly, Banka Lok Sabha seat has never elected any Member of Parliament for a third term so far. The ones who bagged the seat for two consecutive elections include Congress’s Shakuntala Devi in 1957 and 1962, Janata Dal’s Pratap Singh in 1989 and 1991 and Digvijay Singh in 1998 on Samata Party ticket and in 1999 on Janata Dal (United) ticket.

Putul Kumari, is wife of late parliamentarian Digvijay Singh who represented the Banka constituency and became Union minister of state in Chandra Shekhar’s government at the centre. In 2014, she had contested on a BJP ticket but this time her contest independently has made the electoral battle interesting.

Girdhari Yadav, the JDU candidate is presently the sitting MLA representing the Belhar assembly segment of Banka Lok Sabha constituency, Yadav had represented Banka parliamentary seat in 1996 and 2004.

Caste arithmetic the last determinant in Banka:

Banka’s demographic caste dividend includes Yadav 3 lakh, Muslim 2 lakh, Vaishya 2 lakh, Rajput 1.5 lakh, Brahmin 1.25 lakh, Kurmi 1 lakh, Koeri 80 thousand and 30 thousand Gangota. Prospects of Mahagathbandhan supported RJD candidate seems stronger as the Muslim-Yadav (MY) equation will remain intact with it. NDA representative Girdhari Yadav is laying efforts to deflect a block of OBC vote bank from the RJD but may not be sufficient to hurt sitting candidate’s performance.

The caste ridden factor could have been easy for the NDA if Putul Kumari was to be the face of BJP but her independent candidature will certainly spoil NDAs game plan.

As per sentiments on the ground, lime light has been grabbed by independent Putul Kumari as her daughter Shreyasi Singh, Common Wealth Gold Medalist shooter who is leading her campaign reaching out door to door. For Putul Kumari, the Rajput and Brahmin community are considered as her vote bank although confusion persists within one section of Rajputs and business community.

shreyasi Singh

Jai Praksah Narayan Yadav’s family is also not lagging behind in projecting Yadav’s victory. His wife Savita Yadav and two daughters Shefali and Divya Prakash have been undertaking door to door campaigning restlessly.

Savita Yadav

Talking to Newsd exclusively, RJD Youth wing Banka President, Vikas Yadav said, “We are confident about the development work undertaken by Jai Prakash Yadav in last five years. In 70 years Banka had 17 bridges which now counts upto 71. People have appreciated his effort and we are confident of his victory.”

Existing challenges for Banka:

Being predominantly a rural constituency, Banka’s road to development is not so easy. The local population is enraged on issues of massive unemployment.

According to Ashik, a graduate in civil engineering, “Banka is devoid of employment opportunities which solely contribute to rising crime activities. For the business community the roadways connection to Bhagalpur is not good.”

Jameel Ahmad, a veteran social activist of Banka in conversation with Newsd lambasted the tenure of Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav as a joke. Illegal mining, unemployment, rising crime, bad health services in government hospital and education prove failure of his term. Even absence of toilets in area symbolizes shame. Previously elected MPs never thought of landless population of Banka which remains my concern.

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