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Sasaram Lok Sabha Seat: Battle of pride between Chhedi Paswan & Meira Kumar

Sasaram Lok Sabha seat is one of the 40 Parliamentary constituencies of Bihar which is set to vote on 19th of May in the seventh phase of general elections 2019. The Lok Sabha constituency is reserved for Scheduled Caste.

Situated in the Rohtas District in the southwestern parts of Bihar, Sasaram is one of Bihar’s politically historic seats. Babu Jagjivan Ram, who was the Deputy Prime Minister of India (during the late 70s) and a strong proponent of the causes of the marginalized sections of the society, represented this seat in the Parliament. Ram, who belonged to the Chamar caste – an extremely depressed community, won the seat for a remarkable eight times in a row.

In the 2019, Sasaram is gearing up for a direct contest from between the Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Meira Kumar from Congress’s side is in electoral fray against BJPs sitting MP Chhedi Paswan.

Meira Kumar – the first woman Speaker to the Indian Parliament & daughter of Jagjivan Ram was elected from Sasaram Parliamentary constituency consecutively in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections, whereas Chhedi Paswan has won this seat thrice in the past – 1989, 1991 and 2014 and coincidentally he took on Meira Kumar defeating her in those three terms. This is the fourth time they are in pitted against each other.

Sasaram has six assembly segments – Bhabua, Mohania (SC), and Chainpur have BJP MLAs, JDU won Karagahar, while Chenari RLSP MLA Lalan Paswan has formed a new party Rashtrawadi Lok Samta Party. Only Sasaram assembly belongs to RJD.

Some of the MPs who got elected from Sasaram – Jagjivan Ram, Chhedi Paswan, Muni Lal and Meira Kumar went on to play crucial role in national politics.

Jagjivan Ram after attaining victory right after 1952 went on to register successive victories on Congress ticket in 1957, 1962 and 1971, holding crucial portfolios such as railways, agriculture, defence and communication.

After turbulent times of Emergency, Ram left the Congress party and floated Congress For Democracy. His party then went on to ally with the Janata Party by fielding 28 candidates in 1977 general election, a success of which elevated him to the Deputy Prime Minister’s post.

Somewhat similar episode followed Chhedi Paswan as Member of Parliament from Sasaram seat. In 1989 after his first victory on Janatal Dal ticket he played active role in VP Singh government and late in P V Narshimha Rao’s government.

The first break through for the BJP on Sasaram Lok Sabha seat came in form of Muni Lal in 1996 when he became minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 13 day government, repeating it in 1998, 1999.

Similarly Meira Kumar after victory in 2004 went on to become the first woman speaker of Lok Sabha in UPA-1 government.

Analyzing caste arithmetic, Sasaram is dominated mainly by Dalits and Kushwaha followed by Muslims, Yadav and upper castes. Both Mahagathbandhan and NDA are banking heavily on Dalits and Kushwaha vote bank.

BJP in particular has raged up debate of local vs outsider, tagging Meira Kumar as outsider. According to saffron camp’s logic, Kumar has no permanent or rented house here, nor does her name figure in the electoral roll, whereas Chhedi Paswan is the local figure.

Meira Kumar’s candidature has backing of clearance of Durgawati reservoir project from the empowered committee of the Supreme Court, NH from Dehri to Yadunathpur extended to Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. But Meira Kumar’s fight for Sasaram is a no cake-walk as question of Meira Kumar being accessible to her electorate has been raised as a concern.

Locals of Sasaram are furious on development issues such as lack of hospitals and educational institution of high repute. Akash Kumar, an auto driver also a post graduate in History angrily expressed his concerns in conversation with Newsd – A central university was proposed at Sasaram through efforts of Meira Kumar but it was shifted to Gaya under influence of sitting MP Chhedi Paswan; the state government did not provide the required 100 acres of land for its construction.

Sasaram has indeed become a battlefield of pride. While one is riding on safeguarding Meira Kumar’ family legacy, the NDA is boasting on Narendra Modi’s card of muscular nationalism. Lastly it can be said that the jury is out for 23rd May.

Sasaram Lok Sabha Constituency, Bihar: Current MP, Candidates, Polling Date and Election Results

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