In an ironical twist, R.K. Singh, who as a civil servant, stopped Advani’s Rath Yatra, is now a BJP candidate
Calm flow the Ganga and the Sone. The political winds blow lightly, bringing respite from the battles between peasants and landlords that gripped the district for well over three decades.
CPI (ML-Liberation), the underground movement launched by the mobilisation of farm labourers in the early 1970s, led to a number of massacres. With the rise of private militia, society was almost divided into two classes.
Though intermittent killings do occur, the land has been peaceful for a decade now. The murder of Ranbir Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh in 2012 and the acquittal in the Patna High Court of all those convicted by a lower court in the Bathani Tola massacre of 21 Dalits in 1996, and the murder of local CPI (ML) leader Budhram Paswan in March are factors that will impact the polls in Ara constituency, when it goes to the polls on April 17.
The entry of former Union Home Secretary R.K.Singh on BJP ticket is a talking point. It was Mr. Singh who, on the orders of then Chief Minister Lalu Prasad, dashed to Samastipur in 1990 and arrested L.K.Advani and halted the march of his Rath Yatra to Ayodhya. As fate would have it, he is contesting as a BJP nominee.
In the late 1980s, under the Congress rule of Bindeshwari Prasad Dubey, he was instrumental in exposing a cooperative scam perpetrated by a mafia that included the deceased Tapeshwar Singh. He is now pitted against Meena Singh, daughter-in-law of Tapeshwar Singh. She is a sitting JD(U) MP and widow of Ajit Singh, former MP who was killed in a road accident.
The former IAS officer seeks to take credit for the roads that had been constructed in the district during his tenure as Secretary of the State Roads, but attributes the carnages to the State government’s soft approach. After his retirement, he accused Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde of being soft in tackling terrorism in the country.
Local people like Rama Shankar Singh in the constituency complain that he is bureaucratic, maintains a distance and does not mingle with the people like other candidates do.
CPI-ML general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya alleges that Mr. Singh as DM of Patna had ordered lathi charge on demonstrating students and youth. Mr. Bhattacharya is seeking to woo the deprived sections to vote for his party candidate Raju Yadav, who wants to make the fight quadrangular.
The CPI-ML through its frontal organisation Indian Peoples Front(IPF) had entered the democratic process for the first time in 1989 and that too successfully. The party gave up its underground activities and continues to have its own base.
Mr. Singh’s actual fight is with the JD(U) candidate who also belongs to the Rajput community. The BJP is striving hard to prevent vote division as it would benefit the RJD, which has fielded Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha. The BJP also has the support of other upper castes, Banias and Paswan community votes.
Mr. Kushwaha is banking on the RJD’s Muslim-Yadav combined base. As he was earlier with the CPI-ML before flitting between JD(U) and the RJD, Mr. Kushwaha also has support among the extremely backward castes and maha dalit votes. EOM