Will BJP be able to defeat Anant Singh in Bihar’s Mokama by-election?
Vishnu Narayan, for BBC Hindi
This is the first time a by-election is being held after Nitish Kumar was out of the NDA and joined hands with the RJD. That too in Mokama. If the grand alliance led by Nitish wins, then he will present it as the public’s seal on leaving the NDA. On the other hand, if BJP gets victory, it will present it as anger among people against Nitish Kumar.
There may be two women candidates in the fray but the test of strength is between two Bahubali leaders. The by-election to this seat is being held after Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Bahubali leader Anant Singh was convicted in the AK-47 case. The Grand Alliance has nominated his wife Neelam Devi.
On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Sonam Devi, wife of local Bahubali leader Lalan Singh, who was in Janata Dal United till recently.
This is the reason why Janata Dal United National President Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh is seeking votes for Neelam Devi in Mokama on behalf of the Grand Alliance, but is avoiding taking the name of former MLA Anant Singh. JDU President Lalan Singh’s relationship with Anant Singh is not good. Although both belong to the Bhumihar caste.
Bahubali leader Anant Singh has had a tumultuous relationship with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. All the big leaders of the state level are camping in the promotion of the wives of ‘Bahubalis’. Street meetings are taking place everywhere. By the way, it is also interesting that after about 30-32 years, BJP has openly given its candidate in this area.
All the big leaders of BJP are doing street shows to street meetings. On the other hand, slogans are being raised that ‘whether Modi comes or Obama, Anant will win Mokama’.
On behalf of the BJP, former MP and Bahubali leader Suraj Bhan Singh has taken charge of the campaign. In such a situation, this fight is also being seen as ‘Anant vs Surajbhan’ instead of ‘Neelam vs Sonam’.
Nitish Yadav of Mekara village of Mokama assembly says, “Anant Singh is a companion of sorrow and happiness. He comes and goes when called. He may not come to the boy’s wedding, but he does come to the girl’s wedding.”
Another voter Himanshu Yadav says, “Anant Singh calls when he is asked for some work. If the work is worth doing, he will do it, otherwise he will say that the work will not be done by him. Do not let go without getting tea and water. No rent. If yes, then we also pay rent. Now what more does the public need than this?”
On the other hand, voters like Shishupal Kumar, Ranjit Kumar and Shashibhushan Prasad Singh, residents of Aunta village, were seen in support of the BJP candidate. He says that, ‘There is only Anant Singh in his heart, but he is in favor of change this time. We are in favor of BJP.
The people of this village and its surroundings are dependent on ‘Taal’ for their livelihood but despite winning continuously since 2005, Anant Singh Taal could not solve the problem of water being used in the area.
Ajay Chandravanshi, Bablu and Harilal Manjhi of Mokama Bazar are daily wage labourers. Harilal Manjhi, who works at a family brick kiln in Haryana and Punjab for nine months of the year, these days drives a dump in front of the Bharat Wagon.
At the same time, Ajay Chandravanshi used to run a tea shop in front of the once buzzing Bharat Wagon Rail factory. Both of them have become laborers since the closure of this factory. These days neither wages nor proper wages are being received.
At the same time, Bablu does welding work in Mumbai. Have come home on the occasion of Chhath. 12-13 years ago from today, he used to earn up to 500 rupees a day by working with Bharat Wagon. Harilal Manjhi says that ‘My vote is for Modi ji’, while Ajay Chandravanshi and Bablu say that they should give their vote in favor of Anant Singh.
What happened in the last elections?
By the way, since the 2005 elections, only Anant Singh wins here continuously. Whether on the symbol of any party or independent.
His family’s dominance in the area has been going on for decades. In the years 1990 and 1995, his elder brother Dilip Singh has been an MLA from this seat.
He kept on defeating Shyam Sundar Singh of Congress on Janata Dal ticket. However, despite being an independent candidate in the 2000 elections, Suraj Bhan Singh had definitely defeated him.
In 2005, Lalu Prasad was out of power in Bihar and Nitish Kumar became the head of the state. In the same period, Anant Singh also reached the assembly. In common parlance, a tag like ‘Chhote Sarkar’ was used for him.
People keeping an eye on Bihar’s politics even claim that Anant Singh had a role in making Nitish Kumar the head of the state. In the year 2005, Janata Dal (United) made him a candidate.
In the year 2010 too, he reached the assembly after contesting the election on the ticket of Nitish Kumar’s party. However, then the JD(U) and the BJP contested the elections in partnership and the one-on-one fight used to be with the RJD alliance.
In the 2015 assembly elections, Nitish Kumar left the BJP and joined Lalu Prasad’s hand. There was a one-on-one fight between the Grand Alliance and the NDA in the state.
Neeraj Kumar was then the candidate of the Grand Alliance from the JD(U) and the LJP, which is fighting in alliance with the BJP, made ‘Kanhaiya Singh’ its contender.
Then in this by-election, ‘Lalan Singh’ was from Jan Adhikar Party. Despite all the alliances, Anant Singh was successful in winning the Mokama assembly as an independent.
Anant Singh was an independent MLA from Mokama in the year 2015, but by the time the 2019 Lok Sabha elections came, he started contesting for Munger Lok Sabha. When he could not succeed in getting a party ticket for himself, he got his wife ‘Neelam Devi’ to get a Congress ticket.
Then Neelam Devi contested as a JD(U) candidate against Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh. That election was also seen as Lalan versus Anant. Then Lalan Singh was successful in winning as an NDA candidate.
In the 2020 assembly elections, Anant Singh joined the RJD and managed to win easily.
What is new and old this time in Mokama?
Mokama assembly is a seat dominated by the upper castes or say Bhumihar caste. Both the important alliances have also given their candidates from the Bhumihar caste.
The nature of Mahagathbandhan has changed in Bihar. Tejashwi, who was an attacker on CM Nitish as Leader of Opposition, is the Deputy CM these days.
All the parties of Congress and Left are involved in the government. Then Nitish Kumar, who almost wiped out the Grand Alliance by forming an alliance with the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, is now an attacker on the BJP and Narendra Modi. Mukesh Sahni is also issuing letters in favor of Grand Alliance candidates instead of BJP candidates.
By the way, in this by-election, former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi has targeted Nitish Kumar and asked, “Does Nitish Kumar’s conscience testify to him that he has become synonymous with terror in favor of Anant Singh. Come and ask for votes? Anant Singh cannot contest elections after being convicted, while Gopalganj’s Mahagathbandhan candidate is a liquor mafia.”
Nitish Kumar has now neither gone to Mokama nor Gopalganj for campaigning but his party’s national president Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh is claiming, “There is no fight in Gopalganj and no Mahagathbandhan around Mokama. All previous records will be broken in Mokama. The Grand Alliance is unbreakable and will not break a sneeze from the fate of the cat.”