Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Candidates trying to woo `Old Patna society'


PATNA: It is the "Old Patna society" that mainstream candidates and their parties have been trying to woo: traders, Muslims, Bengalis and Kayasthas,
who used to make the charm of Old Patna. For, the sea of migrants has drowned it. Sonelal Mandal, a migrant from Madhubani district runs a tea-stall on Beerchand Patel Path in Patna. He is the head of a 19-member family living here. He has cast his vote in five elections, including two parliamentary elections. He has seven voters in his family. "We will vote for BJP," Sonelal, who is exposed to spirited discussions about the Patna Sahib seat, said. Indeed, the Patna Sahib parliamentary constituency, which has a high density of urban voters spread over its four assembly segments (Patna Sahib, Kumhrar, Bankipore and Digha) and rural voters in two other segments Fatuha and Bakhtiarpur, has witnessed the return of a kind of pockets of "adda" culture -- yet another Old Patna charm. Those gathered at the "addas" in the evening discuss prospects of the five main candidates -- cine star Shatrughan Sinha, BJP, king of small screen Shekhar Suman, Congress, Vijay Kumar Sahu, RJD, Ram Narain Rai, CPI(ML) and Ravi Kumar, BSP, the stress being on the first three. They, in the process, recall vignettes from Sinha's film (most famous being the delivery "Khaamosh!"), and also conclude who among them would win, only to be countered by the other one in the group. Said Sanjay Kumar, who sells packets of blend tea in Kidwaipuri, "Every evening we meet. It is not right to say who will win. The candidates have visited our locality. I will not say where my vote will go." This silence of the voters has intrigued political parties, while RJD has ruffled the wings of BJP by fielding Vijay Kumar Sahu from the class of "vaishya (traders)", since the traders and business community have been the traditional mainstay of BJP. Said BJP's trader cell convener Suresh Rungta, "RJD has tried to cut into our traditional vote bank, but it will not succeed." RJD, however, is satisfied with its move. "For the first time, the people of trader community have a chance to send their representative to Parliament from Patna Sahib," said an RJD leader, adding: "It is paying us dividend, because they, so far, have only cast their votes to make other people MPs." Similarly, Congress has queered the pitch for both BJP and RJD. Its candidate Shekhar Suman has been spreading out his tentacles to pull to his side both the Kayastha and Muslim sections, apart from cultivating others at a furious pace. In a way, "Old Patna society" has come alive in the electoral power play.

Courtsey : The Times of India

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