Caste considerations, crime records played key role in district board polls
"Power to the People" may be the noble theme of panchayat and local bodies elections. But the outcome of district board polls in Bihar have shown that caste considerations and crime records have played key role in deciding the winner of all the 37 post of chairman.
The ruling RJD can draw solace from the fact that at least half of the coveted posts have gone to Yadavs and Muslims, who constitute the main support base of the Rabri Devi Government.
However, there was stunning reversal of fortune for Ms Devi and RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav at their home turf Goapalganj where the RJD-backed nominee and former MLA Devdutt Prasad had to bite the dust at the hands of a candidate whose brother is a terror of north Bihar.
The result of the Goaplganj was keenly awaited because several members of the ruling family had contested the last month's panchayat election from here. Ms Devi's father Shio Prasad Chaudhary was elected as mukhiya in the elections which were marred by allegations of large-scale booth capturing and manipulation in countings.
The RJD-backed nominee Devdutt Prasad was pitted against Amrendra Pandey, brother of don of Gopalganj Satish Pandey, who is wanted in several cases of kidnapping, murder and assault. The final contested virtually became a showdown between Satish Pandey and Mr Devi's brothers Sadhu Yadav and Subhas Yadav, both legislators.
In a district where crime has risen sharply during the last couple of years, Amrendra Pandey walked away with the chairman's post with 16 votes in favour and 14 against. The result has come as major jolt to the ruling family of Bihar.
On the other hand, the overall results are pointer to the fact that caste still play a crucial role in Bihar where development and governance have failed to influence the voting preferences.
The caste break-up of the 37 zila parishad chairman shows that 13 are Yadavas, six Muslims, five each Rajput and Bhumihars, Vishya and Brahmins three each, Kurmi and Bind one each.
In a State where politics solely revolves around the slogans of " social justice" not even a single dalit has been elected as chairman.
The result has seen significant gains made by dubious elements in political mainstream. In addition to Amrendra Pandey, who made it with the blessings of his history-sheeter elder brother, several candidates with tainted past have captured the key posts in zila parishads.
For example, in West Champaran, son of the notorious kidnapper don of Ravibe Bhangar Yadav has been elected as the district board chairman. In Siwan, Mohan Girl and Lalit Manjhi bagged the seat of chairman and vice-chairman with the blessings of controversial local MP Md Sahabuddin. Chanda Devi, wife of notorious criminal Sikhhar Singh, has been elected as chairman of the Lakhisarai district board.
A fair sprinkling of winners also boats of powerful political connections. For example, the winner from Darbhana is Shafi Ahmad, uncle of Commercial Taxes Minister Abdul Bari Siddqui, the chairman of the Sitamdhi district board Dilip Kumar Yadav is son of State Public Relation Department Minister Sitaram Yadav, former MLA Saba Zafar and relative of Building Construction Minister Md Taslimuddin is the winner from Purnia.
Similarly, Jehal Yadav, father of State Minister for Labour Rajballabh Prasad Yadav has captured the Nawada district board chairman's post.