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Congress,JD(U) fight for Rajput votes

This constituency,known as “mini-Chittorgarh”,has been all about Rajput representatives,with former chief minister Satyendra Narayan Sinha's family dominating till recently.

Written by Santosh Singh | Aurangabad |
April 14, 2009 10:44:54 pm

This constituency,known as “mini-Chittorgarh”,has been all about Rajput representatives,with former chief minister Satyendra Narayan Sinha’s family dominating till recently. Sinha himself represented the seat many times (1957 and 1971-1984),his daughter-in-law Shyama Singh was elected in 1999,and now his son,former Delhi police commissioner and sitting Congress MP Nikhil Kumar,is gearing up for a tough battle.

Nikhil,who defeated JD-U’s Sushil Kumar Singh by a slender margin of about 7,500 votes in 2004,faces a litmus test this time. His party’s former ally,the RJD,has fielded its own candidate — Shakil Ahmed Khan — with an obvious eye on the Muslim votes,which together number about 1.25 lakh. BSP candidate Archana Chandra is hoping to swing the Yadav votes (1.65 lakh).

Then there is JD-U’s Sushil Kumar Singh,who has been banking on the upper caste and extremely backward caste (EBC) votes,thanks to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s social engineering. The Rajput voters,numbering about 2.5 lakh,are divided between Sushil and Nikhil. The constituency has 13.32 lakh voters.

While old-timers may root for Sinha’s family,the younger generation seems more keen on the candidate fielded by “development man” Nitish Kumar.

“There is a triangular contest. While this is Nikhil’s traditional family base,Sushil wants to campaign on development issues,and Shakil Ahmed Khan hopes to get the OBC and Muslim votes,” says Ravindra Kumar,a local.

While pitching for development,he admits that “caste is surely an issue as the constituency has always elected a Rajput”.

Naxals can also play a major role if they ask people to boycott polls. A low polling percentage could change equations in anybody’s favour. All the Assembly segments of Aurangabad,Rafiganj,Kutumba,Tekari,Gurua and Imamganj are Naxal-affected.

“For us,it is 15 years of Lalu-Rabri rule versus three-and-a-half years of Nitish Kumar. Good roads,schools and hospitals will be on our mind when we go to vote,” says Gaya Prasad Kushwaha of Shivganj.

At Sadhail village under Rafiganj,which has about 1,100 Rajput voters,the locals are caught between the two Rajputs — Nikhil and Sushil.

“Nikhil belongs to a family of saints. S N Sinha has donated all his property to trusts,” says Tripurai Singh,75. But his son,Surendra Singh,a panchayat secretary,quickly adds that the past will not count for much. “One who can do something for us will get our votes,” he says.

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