Maharaj Mandal, 50, of Chuna Patti village of Katoria made it clear that he is a “Yadav-wala” Mandal. Maharaj, Vijay Yadav and 18 other people were in Banka last weekend, listening to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he addressed a rally.
Maharaj did not know who Mohan Bhagwat is, let alone his reservation comments. He did know of Lalu Prasad’s description of the election as a “backward versus forward” fight, and was not impressed. He said he was tired of the RJD chief “using his surname” only during the elections.
“We voted for Lalu from 1990 till 2014 elections. We kept waiting for an approach road all these years,” said Maharaj. “Chuna Patti becomes a mud field when it rains. The Nitish Kumar government gave roads to neighbouring villages but not ours. His new law of computerising land records may be well-meaning but brokers and corrupt munshis at registry offices are fleecing us. Most of us had to sell our cows to pay bribes. We want a change now.”
Vijay Yadav said Banka’s RJD MP, Jay Prakash Narayan, had promised a road for Chuna Patti during the Lok Sabha elections. “We expressed solidarity with him in the name of caste and he defeated sitting MP Putul Singh (wife of the late Digvijay Singh, former Union minister) but then forgot about us as usual,” Vijay said. “Yadav votes don’t belong to the RJD or Lalu. We have decided to go for phool (BJP’s lotus) this time. We hope Narendra Modi delivers.”
Vijay earns Rs 150 a day. Most villagers have small patches of agricultural land and depend on daily waging. Chuna
Patti, part of Mania panchayat, has a primary school (classes I to V) and an additional health sub-centre with “four lal-peeli (red-and-yellow) tablets”.
The villagers, who listened to the PM from under the shade of a dilapidated structure, laughed when they recalled how local Katoria MLA Sonelal Hembram’s car was once caught in the mud for four hours and the MLA still did nothing about the road. In place of Sonelal, his daughter-in-law Nikki Hembram has got the BJP ticket.
“We are not looking at the local leader but towards Patna and Narendra Modi,” Maharaj said, biting into a piece of coconut. “We hope there is a change this time. Ek baar roti palat ke dekhte hai, kuchh hoga to bahut accha nahin to bhagwan bharose (let’s try to change the government this time; good if something happens, else leave it to God.”