Just 100 km from Patna city lies this constituency where the rule of law seems to be an abstract concept. The battle of the ballot battle here is a repeat between two bahubalis (dons) JD-Us Anant Singh and LJPs Nalini Ranjan Sharma alias Lalan Singh. A brief check of their bio-data shows that Anant has more than two dozens of criminal cases pending against him, while Lalan has nearly 35 cases against him and was also once featured in the TV crime programme India Most Wanted.
Mokameh is one of the few pockets in Bihar where upper caste domination prevails, especially after the Mandalisation of politics in the early 90s. Here, Bhumihars constitute more than one-third of the population, with Rajputs and other upper castes also making up a sizeable number. While the upper castes have huge land holdings in the fertile plains of the Tal region, the lower castes such as Yadavs have began to assert themselves in the last 15 years.
Although the seat was usually won by candidates from the upper castes, in the last two decades bahubalis from the Bhumihar caste have been winning continuously. This also includes Anants brother Dileep Singh and Suraj Bhan Singh, who earlier used to back JD-U chief Nitish Kumar and at present is LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswans Man Friday.
The dons here also represent the aspirations of the upper castes, says RS Singh, a local resident.
But what is disquieting is the ubiquitous poverty and fear among the people here. Entrepreneurship, which can create jobs, is almost non-existent due to fears of extortions. The only industries in the private sector here are McDowells and Batas tannery unit, which set up shop in 1973 and 1942 respectively. Two PSUs Bharat Wagons and NTCs spinning mill are not in the best of health. Although tell-tale signs of lack of development such as pathetic roads and lack of basic civic amenities are conspicuous, people do not dare to speak on issues such as this to their candidates. Instead, they are used to following farmaans (orders) on what to do on voting day.
Interestingly, political parties in Bihar vying to get the strongest bahubali onto their respective sides is a common phenomenon. While some of RJDs strongmen include Shahabuddin, Ramanand Yadav, Taslimuddin and his son Sarfaraz Alam; JD-U has Munna Shukla, Rajan Tiwari, Dhumal Singh and LJP also has quite a few with the likes of Suraj Bhan Singh and Rama Singh.
However, this time around in Mokameh, there seems to be a small leap in the peoples faith in democracy, with the central para-military forces trotting the streets and the KJ Rao magic having some impact. Raosaab has proved that the common voter can go to the polling booth and vote without fear at the polling booth. But the fact is that the voter here is still scared that the dons may come to know who they voted for, says Mohammed.
Whether it is Anant or Lalan or anyone else who wins the elections here, the fact remains that political partiesare only facilitaing criminalisation of politics.