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Biharis living in northeast bat for ‘good government’ back home

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Agartala/Guwahati: People from Bihar living in different parts of the northeast are intimately monitoring the on-going assembly polls in the state.

Thousands of people from Bihar are living in several northeastern states, especially in Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya, and engaging themselves in various trades and diverse works.

Most of them are reluctant to go to their home state to cast votes as they would lose their daily income for several days.

“We want a good government in Bihar as the state crucially needs superior governance for the economic upliftment of the backward people. We hate caste-based politics,” said Mahindar Kumar Mahato, who sells a mixture of nuts and peas in Agartala.

A resident of Vaishali district in Bihar, Mahato said “If we go to cast our votes in Bihar we would lose income for several days. A negligible number of people from different northeastern states have gone to their home districts to cast their votes and to see their family members.”

According to the Bihari people in northeast, in this year’s assembly election, corruption, development and price rise are playing a vital role in deciding the fate of political parties. These issues might affect the voting pattern, they added.

“In previous elections in Bihar, caste-based issues were very vital matters, but this time people want good all-weather roads, good health services, quality education and creation of job opportunities,” said Raju Kumar Yadav, a resident of Purnia (Sadar), one of the seven constituencies of Purnia district which would vote on November 5 in the last phase of five-phased Bihar assembly polls.

Raju Kumar Yadav, who makes linen items, said “Corruption should be checked and employment opportunities and educational facilities should be improved. Infrastructure, including roads and development, should be top agenda of political parties.”

Suraj Sheikh, 37, from Kishanganj in Bihar, a Muslim-dominated district, works as a sub-contractor on different projects of the Northeast Frontier Railway. He is based at Maligaon in Guwahat and stays in a rented house. He came to Assam 10 years ago and is trying to enrol himself in the state’s electoral list.

Dropping out of college due to poverty, he initially worked as a manager and site overseer for a local contractor and learned ropes. He has been taking sub-contracts for the past two years.

“We were a big family, four elder sisters and two brothers. Development in Bihar had been weak. In our village there were hardly a handful of graduates. I married here (Assam), but to a Bihari girl. Now Assam is my home and elections in Bihar have no meaning because the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) would be same the like Lalu (Prasad Yadav) or Nitish (Kumar), Sheikh said.

“Yes Nitish (Kumar) did good work, but not across Bihar. I am against communal and caste-based politics played out in Bihar by some political parties.”

Rickshaw puller Raghuram Paswan said “Due to abject poverty I have migrated to Guwahati many years back. We live in a small shanty where we five rickshaw pullers stay – all from Khagaria district of Bihar.”

“Our village has seen a bit of development these days but we are uneducated and have no work in modern Bihar. I have been here in Guwahati for nine years; before that I was in Tinsukia in upper Assam, pulling rickshaw for 11 years there before ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) militant started killing Biharis.”

“We (Bihari) are still considered outsiders in some parts of the northeastern states. As we are not living Bihar for many years, so it is pointless to go and vote there, though Nitish Kumar is my favourite,” Paswan added.

(Sujit Chakraborty,IANS)

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

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“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

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The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
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Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)