“These are tough times. Any sabzi is Rs 40 a kilo, nothing is less than that,” said Siyamani Devi of Naya Tola, Jehanabad. “Onions are Rs 60, arhar dal Rs 150. There is no question of buying it. Humne to bachcho ko daal parosana bandh kiya hai (we have stopped serving dal to our children).”
Sumanti Sinha, Rekha Devi and Sanju Devi were chatting outside Siyamani’s home. Siyamani’s husband being a thanedar with Bihar police, she is better off than the others.
“I have two children,” Sanju said. “My husband has been looking for a job for years. He asked me to leave his parents’ home because they cannot feed our children. I am living with my parents, looking for a small job.”
What kind of a job?
“Sister,” she said, “is Rs 1,500 a month possible? Even better would be Rs 2,000.”
Many women in Bihar have been complaining that in the NDA regime, fewer hours of work are available under MNREGA. Rekha Devi said, “We want to vote for someone who can open a factory . But nobody is giving that guarantee.” Her unemployed husband has gone to try his luck in Varanasi, she said.
Without work, how do they while their time? Sanju and Siyamani chorused, “We watch Bhabhiji Ghar Main Nahin on TV.”
This area was an Left bastion for years. Now, in the absence of a strong Left leader, voters have shifted to the JD(U) for the last two elections. Mundrika Yadav is the RJD candidate.