Patna likely to go the BJP way

Patna, Nov 14 | Updated: Nov 15 2005, 05:30am hrs
Whether NDA wrests power and dislodges the 15-year RJD rule in Bihar will be clearer in the next 10 days, but Patna city looks very much like it has already made up its mind.

In the four Patna constituencies that are slotted in the fourth phase of the Assembly polls, BJP seems to be emerging a clear victor in the first three constituencies with a relatively tighter contest likely in Danapur.

While BJP plays second fiddle to JD-U in the rest of Bihar, in urban Patna the party plays the leading role as it seems to have retained its appeal to the urban educated masses and higher castes, especially the trading community. The party has repeated its candidates.

As for the caste/religion domination in the four constituencies, with Kayasthas dominating in Patna central (24%) and Patna west (25%); Muslims have a crucial say in Patna central (15%) and Patna east (10%); although Yadavs have a sizeable population in Patna west (16%), Patna central (15%) and Patna east (20%), they have a domination in Danapur (45%).

Incidentally, Danapur was once RJD chief Lalu Prasads constituency, which BJP grabbed in the last elections from RJDs Ramanand Yadav (currently behind bars). This was because, BJPs candidate Satyanarain Singh was slain and his widow Asha Devi rode a sympathy wave.

But electoral behaviour need not be based on pure arithmetic alone. While there may be a wave in Patna for Nitish Kumar, one of the main reasons going against the RJD is the deteriorating law and order scenario in Patna. While the kidnapping of Golu, a school student in Patna west is still fresh in the citys memory, the killing of a prominent businessmen Vijay Bharatiya, a few days back, in Patna east haunts the business community.

But what about Muslim votes With RJD chief Lalu Prasad aiming for the Muslim-Yadav vote re-consolidation, the question here is whether LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan can again eat into Lalus M-Y votebank in Patna. Says Mohammed Aslam, a garments vendor in Sabzi Mandi, The Muslim votes is likely to be split this time, although a major chunk is expected to go to RJD, especially as Congress backs it. But Mr Paswan seems to have made inroads with his promise of a Muslim CM having many takers... Besides, we also want to sees development in our community and therefore Nitish Kumar, despite being backed by BJP, may get votes from a section of educated and high class Muslims. A trend which may have Lalu worrying.