Kubauliram under Bangra police station, in Samastipur Lok Sabha constituency of Bihar, is a model village adopted by the local MP, Ramchandra Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). The village is dominated by people from upper caste Bhumihar community, and is linked to the main approach road by a metal road. It has eight schools, including a higher secondary school (up to Class XII), an electricity substation, a telephone exchange, and an additional primary healthcare centre.
But none of these was built during Paswan’s tenure, local residents pointed out. Paswan, brother of LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, adopted the village because it was already developed, locals maintained.
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Paswan only helped construct a 500-metre cement road and has visited the village on only a couple of occasions in the last five years, villagers said. Many people also said that he is “hiding behind the Narendra Modi factor”.
His main rival this year will again be the Congress’s Ashok Kumar, who had lost by a margin of just over 6,800 votes in 2014.
While the LJP candidate is banking primarily on the support from 3.5 lakh upper caste voters and about 80,000 voters from his own community of Paswans, he is also likely to get votes from some non-Yadav OBCs and other Scheduled Caste communities. Congress’s Kumar will look to get most votes from 2.25 lakh OBC Kushwaha, 1.8 lakh Muslim and 1.5 lakh Yadav voters.
Upendra Kushwaha, the former Union minister who quit the NDA recently and is now with the RJD-led Opposition alliance, could play the deciding factor. “If Kushwahas (community) rally around the Congress candidate, he may surprise Ramchandra Paswan, who was helped by the Modi wave in 2014,” said Sudhanshu Kumar, a Samastipur resident.
Rajan Tyagi from Kubauliram village said Paswan is always ready to listen to criticism against him —“Mujhe jo kehna hai kaho, par vote mujhko hi do (tell me whatever you want, but vote for me),” he tells the people with a smile.
Tyagi also said the village, with around 6,000 voters, would hold it against the MP for not doing any development work over the last five years. “He chose (to adopt) our village since it was already famous. Many people from the village hold good government positions. Three former Prime Ministers — Jawaharlal Nehru, Morarji Desai and Chandrashekhar — had visited our village,” he said.
Another villager, Chandru Prasad Singh, said, “It is Modi factor (that counts). Ramchandra Paswan is immaterial.”
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Paswan, too, is banking on that, and does not forget to remind people that a vote for him will be a vote for Modi. He said at a recent public meeting: “People should strengthen the hands of Prime Minister Modi. Let there be a Modi government again.”
Congress’s Ashok Kumar is, meanwhile, telling voters how the Modi government failed to fulfil its promises on employment generation, and hopes his party’s proposed poverty alleviation scheme — NYAY — has found takers.