Thursday, October 28, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Caste blood thicker than sweat of development

Caste blood thicker than sweat of development

Saubhadra Chatterji / Phulwaria/ Salar Kala October 28, 2010, 0:54 IST

This is the first in a three-part report on the mood in the state,
which is in the midst of six-phase Assembly elections

Lalu Prasad: Yes; Rabri Devi: No. The two opposition leaders are
trying to win back the confidence of the masses in Bihar. But in their
backyard, the result of their exertions is mixed. Phulwaria, Lalu
Prasad's birthplace, sees overwhelming support for the Yadav leader.
Three kms away at former chief minister Rabri Devi's village Salar
Kala, people, however, want Nitish Kumar to return to head the state.

A stone's throw from Rabri Devi's ancestral home, there is a health
centre in Salar Kala. "The centre was built long ago. Only recently,
during Nitish Kumar's regime, have we seen doctors coming regularly.
Medicines have been made available," says Jain Kumar Singh, a vendor
of mobile phone connections.

It is a Kushwaha-dominated village. Although Kushwahas and Yadavs both
fall in the Other Backward Classes category, the groups have separate
political aspirations.

Lalu Prasad, however, will still win a popularity poll in Phulwaria.
This is a village dominated by Yadavs and caste camaraderie pays
higher dividends than developmental efforts by Nitish Kumar's

"Even if you talk about development, Laluji had already done
everything for the village. There is a power sub-station, 30-bed
hospital, telephone exchange, registry office and police station,"
says Subhas Prasad Yadav.

Lalu's brother, Gulab Yadav, still lives in the village where the
Yadav brothers have three houses, apart from farmland. "I feel the
atmosphere is in favour of my brother. People are fed up with
corruption in Nitish Kumar's rule," he says.

In many parts of Bihar, the credit for improved roads it notched up to
Nitish Kumar's government even if they are National Highways or roads
built under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, which means they are
funded by the central government. But Lalu's political message has
gone down well in his Phulwaria.

"Arre, all these roads are done with Central funds. Anybody can do
this if you get money from Delhi. Why give Nitish Kumar the credit?"
questions Kamlesh Yadav, adding: "Yes, the law & order situation has
improved. But officials have become arrogant and inaccessible."

Rabri Devi's parents are in a dilemma as their daughter is a Rashtriya
Janata Dal (RJD) candidate, while son Sadhu Yadav is contesting on a
Congress ticket from neighbouring Gopalganj. Both Phulwaria and Salar
Kala fall in the Hathua constituency, but Maharajo Devi, the mother,
says, "I don't know which way to go."

Bhola Singh and friend Nandlal Singh are, however, clear: "What is so
important about Rabri Devi's house being in this village? We want
development." Villagers like Rajji Singh—another Kushwaha—fear that
"once the RJD comes back to power, its leaders will try to capture our

But there is one similarity between the two VIP villages: both are
angry with their incumbent JD(U) MLA Ramsevak Singh. While Salar Kala
will still vote for him for the sake of Nitish Kumar, Lalu's Phulwaria
will oppose him to see its favourite leader back in power.


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