There is an old cliché that “Rome pope ka, Madhepura Gop ka”. It reverberates in this Yadav land in every election. Yadav caste alone constitutes 35 per cent of the total population in this north Bihar district. It is natural that Yadavs call the shots in this region and their tilt towards any candidate can see him or her through. In this election, lalu Prasad’s hold on his caste men will be fully tested in Madhepura.
There are tell-tale signs that Yadavs in Madhepura district, involving four Assembly seats, might play to the tune of lalu Prasad, who once represented this seat in the lok Sabha. Of course, many Yadav candidates will try to poach the Grand Alliance votes.
“Attempts by present Madhepura MP Rajesh Ranjan, alias Pappu Yadav, who after expulsion from the RJD flouted his own Jana Adhikar Party (JAP), to divide his caste’s vote is unlikely to succeed,” said social thinker and local journalist Debashish Bose, who knows Madhepura’s politics like the back of his hand.
“Wrong selection of candidates by the NDA will also adversely affect the BJP-led alliance,” he added. In all four constituencies — Madhepura, Singheshwar, Bihariganj and Alamnagar — Yadavs are followed by extremely backward castes — Kewat and Gorhi — which where included in the Scheduled Caste category by the Nitish Kumar Government.
While the Yadavs and Muslims cover about 43 per cent of votes, the Kewat and Gorhi besides other EBCs like Bind, Suri and Chayi, are other major caste component in this region.
The Madhepura district has traditionally been a stronghold of socialists or those following this school. The Grand Alliance leaders are making an all-out effort to woo a section of other castes and EBCs. Even a section of the trading community does not appear averse to joining this social equation.
Keshav Agrawal, a local trader, said, “We want peace and stability. The trading community is peace loving society and does not want any social tension and clash. Peace is must for our existence and business.” He was obviously referring to the presence of Pappu Yadav and his party in the fray.
RJD’s sitting MlA Chandra Shekhar is again trying his luck from here. He shares excellent personal rapport with the trading community. Even though Vijay Kumar Vimal of the BJP is also a Yadav, but Yadavs seemed to be polarised in favour of the RJD.
In Madhepura, Yadavs are divided in at least 16 sub-castes or categories. The Majrot Yadavs are in overwhelming majority and Vimal belongs to Majrot Yadavs who are in minority. “If Majrots constitute about 95%, the Majrots have only 5% population,” pointed a social worker Kumar Prashant.
In Alamnagar, senior Minister Narendra Narayan Yadav of JD(U) is struggling to retain his seat. The person giving him sleepless nights is his former aide Jai Prakash Singh, who is contesting as candidate of Pappu Yadav’s JAP. The contest appears to be between them. lJP candidate Chandan Singh is struggling to bury his past as he is facing over 50 criminal cases. Both Singhs belong to Rajput caste. Apart from Yadav, the Gorhi caste dominates certain areas of Alamnagar. The Gorhis are peeved that lJP which fielded a Gorhi nominee in the last Assembly election opted for a Rajput. The CPI has fielded a Gorhi Ramdeo Singh who is trying to make the contest quadrangular. Alamnagar is also known for highest child mortality rate in Bihar.
In Bihriganj, there are four strong Yadav candidates -- including former Minister Ravindra Charan Yadav, who had been in the RJD and the JD(U) and now contesting on lotus symbol. But the JD(U) strategically has not fielded a Yadav but Koeri. There is apprehension that the possible split in Yadav votes might damage the prospects of the BJP.
“This is Yadav belt and don’t apprehend even a minor split in their votes. They are united,” said Rajendra Kumar Yadav, a schoolteacher at Singheshwar bazaar. “The picture is clear and the result is also clear,” he said with a broad smile and claimed that Pappu Yadav was putting up pressure to show his presence but would not succeed in winning a seat.