Updated: November 4, 2015 3:09:55 pm
Arjun Bhawan, a two-storey building in Purnea, is almost deserted. There are no election workers or campaign vehicles; only a lone office assistant sits there, ready with information about his party’s candidates for anyone who wants it. Welcome to the headquarters of Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party.
Purnea was once Pappu’s domain. Arjun Bhawan doubles up as his home and party headquarters. He has represented Purnea in the Lok Sabha twice and been an MLA from here a number of times. Today, his newly formed party has fielded candidates in only four seats in and around Purnea. And except in two seats, Purnea Sadar and Damdaha, it is not even seen as being in the race.
Pappu’s candidates, however, pose a threat to the JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance in Seemanchal because Pappu, officially Rajesh Ranjan, used to enjoy the support of Muslims and Yadavs, the constituency of RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
In Purnea, there are people who remain fond of Pappu Yadav and would have voted for him if he were in the fray. But when it comes to voting for his party, they are unsure. “Even Pappu’s mother lost when she contested the Lok Sabha election from here in 2009,” says Akhilesh, a taxi driver in Purnea.
“He is swimming against the tide. The contest is between the BJP and the grand alliance. Pappu is not part of either of them. In this election, there is no hope for those who are not aligned.” That was the sense that emerged from a conversation in a teashop.
Of the two candidates who pose a threat of vote division to the grand alliance, one is Arvind Kumar a.k.a. Bola Sa, a young entrepreneur. He runs a nursery and introduces himself as a social worker. In Purnea Sadar, the business hub of Seemanchal and where he is Pappu’s nominee, the BJP is wary of him.
The BJP has fielded the wealthy Vijay Khemka, denying its ticket to sitting MLA Kiran Kesri whose husband and three-time BJP MLA Raj Kishore Kesri was murdered in 2011. Both Kesri and Khemka are from the Baniya traders’ caste. Pappu believes a section of the Baniyas and Marwaris, who are a large population here and are not traditional Congress supporters, are unhappy about Kesri being denied the ticket and they will flock to his party. The grand alliance candidate is district Congress president Indu Sinha.
In Dhamdaha, Pappu has fielded former RJD MLA Dilip Yadav. The JD(U) candidate is sitting MLA Leshi Singh, who was a minister in the Nitish Kumar government. Dhamdaha is considered a JD(U) seat but Dilip Yadav could divide the grand alliance votes. For the NDA, Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP has fielded Shiv Shankar Thakur.
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