Aurahi Hingana is possibly the best known village of Araria Lok Sabha constituency, which heads to a bypoll Sunday. It is home to Hindi litterateur Fanishwar Nath Renu (1921-77), known for Maila Aanchal and Parti Parikatha. His family makes no secret about its political preferences; its members say they will vote with “BJP in mind and Nitish Kumar at heart.” By the large, thatched verandah hang large portraits of the author and his second wife, Padma Renu. His eldest son Padam Parag Roy “Venu”, who was the BJP MLA from Forbesganj between 2010 and 2015, is now a JD(U) leader. The BJP had denied Padam Parag the ticket in 2015, leading to his crossing over to the JD(U). Now that Nitish Kumar is back with the NDA, however, the Renu family too is firmly behind the NDA.
The youngest of Renu’s three sons, Dakshineshwar Prasad Roy, is an MBA in rural management and has been living in the village since 2005. “We share a special bond with Nitish Kumar. He is like the son-in-law of my house and was been close to my mother, Padma Renu,” Dakshineshwar says: “We were a bit hurt when Nitish went with the RJD but are very happy now about his return to the NDA. We have Nitish Kumar in our heart and BJP in mind, because Forbesganj is purely a BJP constituency.”
Since 1990, the BJP has been dominating Forbesganj politics. The family appears to have forgiven the party for denying Padam Parag the ticket in 2015. The patch-up apparently came recently, after BJP state president Nityanand Rai visited the family. “Our sense of hurt is gone now,” says Dakshineshwar. “BJP with Nitish will become a formidable combination once again despite the RJD’s Muslim-Yadav consolidation.”
The youngest son says his family has changed allegiances from being socialists to being pro-saffron. He recalls how his father had unsuccessfully contested from Forbesganj Assembly seat in 1972, as an independent, against his close friend Sarju Mishra of the Congress. “It was the only time he contested an election. Perhaps, we avenged his defeat when my brother won with a record margin (26,827 votes) in 2010,” Dakishineshwar says. But then, Renu should not have been in politics. He belongs to the villages and to Hindi literature.”
The family has kept Renu’s room the way it was when he wrote most of his famous works from there. The thatched roof with its sharp slope looks the way it would have during the 1960s. The room has several photographs of Renu, besides a rare collection of portraits of a young Renu. All his memorablia will soon be moved to the newly constructed Renu Smriti Bhavan, once it is opened. Nitish, who has visited Renu’s home four times in the last 12 years, got the building constructed with a museum, an auditorium and a guesthouse.
Dakhishneshwar says Aurahi Hingana, which is a pair of twin villages with over 500 households, is politically very aware because of Renu capturing his society and politics in almost all his works. “My father’s biggest social inputs would come from his bullock-cart driver Kusumlal Mandal, who inspired the character of Hiraman played by Raj Kapoor in Teesri Kasam, based on Renu’s famous work Maare Gaye Gulpham. He would create literature under the light of a petromax (a lamp powered by kerosene),” Dakhineshwar says. Electricity came to Aurahi Hingana in 1995, 18 years after the death of the author.
Dakshineshwar, who was just five when Renu died, describes how there would be celebrations in the village whenever his father came home from Patna. Renu had to divide his time between Patna and his village. “I have heard from my elders that many villagers would gather for intense discussions at my house. My father drew almost entirely real-life characters from the village. He created political awareness in the region. My father did not earn money but he did earn tremendous renown and we owe our identity to him,” says Dakshineshwar, who runs a voluntary group called Fanishwar Nath Renu Samaj Seva Sansthan.
Aurahi Hingana got a metalled road after 2010. The 8-km road from the National Highway near Pothia to Aurahi Hingana is in need of maintenance. Renu Gate along the highway, too, is overshadowed by an over-bridge.