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Saran violence may polarise voters in remaining 16 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar

Patna, May 24, 2024
The recent violence in Chapra area in Saran may polarise voters in the remaining 16 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar that will go to polls in the sixth and seventh phases.

The Maharajganj Lok Sabha seat will be directly affected by the violence as four Assembly seats of Saran District come under the constituency.

In such a situation, polarisation of votes will make matters unpredictable for all the political parties in the fray.

During the fifth phase of elections in Saran, the dispute between the BJP and RJD supporters started with a scuffle and turned into firing.

In the firing at the Bhikhari Thakur Chowk in Chapra, three RJD workers were hit, resulting in the death of one and grievous injuries to the other two.

The victims belong to the Yadav community and the two BJP supporters who fired the gunshots are from the Rajput caste.

Politics and blame game has already started over the reprehensible incident.

BJP and RJD leaders have blamed each other for the dispute that started at booths 318 and 319 of Saran on May 20.

The RJD’s Rohini Acharya has accused the BJP’s cadres of misbehaving with her and trying to kill her.

On the other hand, the BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy stated that the May 21 firing took place in self-defence.

From the statements of all political parties, it seems that an attempt is being made to keep the issue alive till the next two phases of elections.

In the sixth phase of the election, the effect of this incident will be seen on the Maharajganj Lok Sabha seat that is adjacent to Saran as this constituency has been created by combining some areas of Siwan and Saran Districts.

There are six Assembly seats here which include four, namely Taraiya, Baniyapur, Ekma and Manjhi in Saran District and Goriyakothi and Maharajganj in Siwan.

With more than 4.50 lakh voters, Rajputs dominate this constituency, followed by Bhumihars at 4 lakh.

There are also around 2.5 lakh Brahmins and 2.5 lakh Yadav voters in the constituency.

In the Maharajganj Lok Sabha constituency, BJP’s outgoing MP Janardan Singh Sigriwal is pitted against Congress candidate Akash Singh.

Akash Singh is the son of Congress state President Akhilesh Prasad Singh. He belongs to the Bhumihar caste and Maharajganj has a good number of Bhumihars.

Here the Congress was hoping for the MY equation to be added to the Bhumihar votes, assuring it a victory.

However, after the Saran incident, if caste mobilisation takes place then the Congress candidate may suffer a loss, as Bhumihars come under the upper caste category and are considered the core voters of the BJP in Bihar.

The fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections has been completed and voting for 16 seats will be done in the remaining two phases.

In the sixth phase on May 25, voting will be held on eight seats, which includes Valmiki Nagar, West Champaran, East Champaran, Sheohar, Vaishali, Gopalganj, Maharajganj and Siwan.

In the seventh phase also, voting will be held on eight seats that include, Nalanda, Patna Sahib, Pataliputra, Arrah, Buxar, Sasaram, Karakat and Jehanabad.

East Champaran, Sheohar, Vaishali, Maharajganj, Siwan, Ara, Buxar, and Karakat are some of the constituencies where the population of upper castes and MY voters is sizable.

If there is a polarisation of votes here after the Saran incident, then NDA and INDIA bloc candidates may suffer losses on these seats.

Purvi Champaran, Sheohar, Vaishali, Maharajganj, Arrah and Buxar are the constituencies where the NDA has given tickets to upper caste candidates.

The Grand Alliance has given tickets to upper caste candidates only in two places apart from Maharajganj and those are Buxar and Vaishali.

In Buxar, Sudhakar Singh, a Rajput candidate is contesting while bahubali Munna Shukla is contesting on the RJD ticket from Vaishali and he belongs to the Bhumihar caste.

This is a win-win situation for the NDA especially in Maharajganj, Vaishali and Buxar Lok Sabha constituencies as upper castes in the combination of Rajputs, Bhumihars and Brahmins are in a dominant position here.

Janardan Singh Sigriwal and Veena Singh are the outgoing MPs from Maharajganj and Vaishali and are contesting the election this time too.

If there was any anti-incumbency factor against them before the election, then after this incident, all grievances will be set aside and they will get the votes of their communities.

“Political party leaders are making statements on the Saran incident. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the BJP candidate from Saran gave a ‘self-defence’ statement. It could be a tactical ploy to polarise voters. Both upper caste and MY voters will consolidate after this incident.

“In constituencies like Arrah, Karakat and Jahanabad, the Grand Alliance is very strong. In Jahanabad, the RJD candidate Surendra Yadav lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election with a small margin of 1,700 votes to Chandeshwar Prasad Chandravansi and the Saran incident has consolidated his position.

This incident has removed doubts from voters’ minds about which side they are on,” said Pranav K Choudhary, senior journalist in Patna.

Senior political analyst Ajay Kumar says that after such an incident, polarisation is bound to happen and political parties feel they can reap the benefit of this consolidation.

“We observed during the first five phases of the election that upper caste voters were committed to the BJP and similarly MY voters were in favour of the RJD and Grand Alliance candidates. There was no confusion. However, after the Saran violence, polarisation cannot be ruled out,” Kumar said.

“However, Lav-Kush (Kurmi-Kushwaha) voters are unpredictable this time due to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar changing his allegiance from one alliance to another,” he said.(Agency)

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