There’s a saying in Bhojpuri language – Ara zila ghar ba tab kaahe k darr ba (There’s nothing to fear if you belong to Ara district). Land of Bhojpur (Ara) is the place where Veer Kunwar Singh turned rebellion against the British Raj becoming the chief organiser of the fight against the British in Bihar.
Ara or Bhojpur, the constituency keeps a distinguished position in Bihar’s history with inception of Naxal movement which led to vigorous land movement. In 90s the bitter rivalry between Communist cadres and upper-caste militia-like Ranvir Sena resulted into bloodbath situation.
On eight parliamentary seats of Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Patliputra, Ara, Buxar, Sasaram, Jehanabad and Karakat 157 candidates are in electoral fray.
Ara has seven Assembly segments — Ara, Barhara, Sahpur, Jagdishpur, Tarari, Sandesh and Ajion (SC reserved seat). Of which in 2015 assembly polls, RJD bagged five, JDU one and one seat was grabbed by CPI (ML)’s Sudama Prasad.
In 2014, Raj Kumar Singh had won the parliamentary seat with a margin of 1.36 lakh votes (43.78%) over his nearest rival Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha of RJD, who got 2.55 lakh votes (28.57%) and in third place CPI (ML)’s Raju Yadav garnered 98,000 votes (11.06%).
RJD and CPI (ML) ‘Foe’ turned ‘Friends’ in 2019 polls
In 90s Bhojpur would often witness clashes between Dalits and the upper castes. CPI (ML) would then accuse the RJD and Lalu Prasad of being soft on upper caste landlords. In 1997 in Siwan murder of popular JNU student leader Chandrasekhar on instruction of RJD strongman Shahabuddin is widely known biggest political killing in the region.
It was because of this rivalry with Lalu Yadav’s RJD that the Indian People’s Front (IPF), the political outfit of the then underground Left organisation, had offered support to Nitish Kumar’s Samata Party which parted ways with Lalu Yadav in the early nineties.
The first major electoral breakthrough for the ultra-left party was victory of Rameshwar Prasad, the first Left leader who attained victory on Ara Lok Sabha seat in 1989 as candidate of Indian People’s Front (IPF), an open mass front of the then underground CPI (ML). Rameshwar Prasad also won the Sandesh Assembly seat in Bhojpur twice.
After nearly three decades of ideological animosity and strained relationship, Lalu decided to curb bitterness and started sending strong signals to the CPI (ML) to overcome political differences and form an alliance to strengthen the secular base ahead of the 2019 general elections.
CPI (ML) often referred to as “Bhaakpa-Maale” in Bihar on the other hand is known to maintain equidistance from both the Congress and the RJD surprised the political pundits by allying with the RJD on Ara seat. In return to this favour, CPI (ML) pledged support to daughter of Lalu Yadav, Misa Bharti’s candidature on Patliputra Lok Sabha seat.
So, a say in English- In politics there are no permanent friends or foes became a reality and a formidable alliance against the BJP came to existence.
Ara’s Caste arithmetic– As Ara is considered to be the battlefield between the upper castes and the Dalits, seven assembly segments are dominated mostly by 5 lakh Yadav, 2 lakh Muslim, 1.5 lakh Mallah 2.5 lakh Khushwaha with Bhumihars, Brahmins nominal and Rajput in sizeable number.
BJP, which is banking on the support of upper caste Rajputs, Bhumihars, Brahmins, economically backward classes, and Scheduled Castes, winning the Ara seat is not easy this time, in the absence of a major third party in the race.
BJPs R.K.Singh the bureaucrat-turned leader is seeking re-election on his development work and PM Narendra Modi’s performance on National security and development. But internal reports suggest that R.K.Singh was annoyed on high commands decision of fielding him on Ara seat as he tried hard pitching in for Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat. This was denied whose result was supporters of R.K.Singh protested against Ravishankar Prasad (present candidate of BJP on Patna Sahib seat) with slogans of “Ravi Shankar Prasad, go back” at Patna Airport couple of months back.
Mahagathbandhan has pinned hope on Yadav-Kushwaha-Mallah-Muslim-Mahadalit combination but a contradiction was seen during seat sharing as there were reports of Grand alliance ally Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief Upendra Kushwaha not happy with RJD backing the CPI (ML) candidate, as the Left party chose to field one of its candidates against Kushwaha in Karakat.
The disastrous national policies of the BJP government at the centre have influenced the RJD and CPI (ML) in Ara to cut short their ideological differences. The Ara experimentation is all about to confront the bigger evil of fascist force. The caste combination of Mahagathbandhan has put R.K.Singh in fix for sure for which he was hesitant in opting for this parliamentary seat said Prof. D.M.Diwakar, a social scientist and former Director A N Sinha Institute of Social Sciences in exclusive conversation with Newsd.
According to locals, R.K.Singh’s experience as a bureaucrat may be of help as he has promised Koilwar six-lane bridge, four-laning of the Arrah-Buxar road with medical and engineering college.
Raju Yadav is confident about his struggle against closure of Maharaja Law College, demanding UGC recognition for Veer Kunwar University and movement on the issues of irrigation, water supply through canals, diesel grant, crop loss compensation, and paddy purchase.
When it comes to campaigning both the NDA and Mahagathbandhan have plunged in with power pack publicity. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, BJP Chief Amit Shah were among star campaigners of the NDA backed BJP candidate while Ara Lok Sabha seat became the important spot for both Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav to campaign for Raju Yadav.
CPI (ML) general secretary, Dipankar Bhattacharya has camped for campaigning in nearly all blocks falling under Ara seat. Talking to Newsd he said- 2019 general election is all about safeguarding our nation. We have constantly stood against caste oppression when BJP-RSS thrived on politics of Kamandal and Ram Mandir. The then victory of Rameshwar Prasad in 1989 established our credibility. Again we have got a chance to repeat history and this time we are confident of doing so.
Ara seat of Bihar in last phase of Lok Sabha polls has evolved as battle between two contrasting ideologies of – the Left and the Right but ongoing silent churning among electorate may pull up a surprise in comparison to 2014 result.