Congress nominee Meira Kumar, the first woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha and heir to the legacy of her father Jagjivan Ram, has won the Sasaram seat twice (while her father had won it seven times), but this time, she is finding it hard to establish that she is the ‘daughter of the soil’, while the Bharatiya Janata Party has made domicile an election issue and has projected its candidate as the ‘son of the soil’.
“Kumar has no permanent or rented house here, nor does her name figure in the electoral roll, whereas Chhedi Paswan is the son of the soil,” said BJP’s Kaimur president Jitendra Pandey and declared that the election was between the “son of the soil” and “the daughter of Delhi”.
Pandey asked, “If she can not vote for herself here, how would others vote for her? People here have understood everything.” He added, “This is why Chhedi Paswan has defeated Kumar in 1989, 1991, and 2004. She won the seat in 2004 and 2009 only when Chhedi Paswan was not in the fray.”
However, senior Congress leader Anil Tiwary did not agree with Pandey. “Meira ji need not show her identity in the area nourished by her family since Independence,” he said.
“Jagjivan Ram served the constituency since 1952 till his death in 1986. And now, raising the issue of her domicile is nothing but pushing the LS poll into a dirty game,” said Tiwary, adding, “Kumar also served the nation by becoming LS speaker and made us proud.”
Upendra Pratap Singh, former district president of the Congress, said that Kumar’s ‘outsider’ image issue was media hype, and that there was no such issue on the ground. “Meiraji is Sasaram ki bitiya. People are furious over the neglect of the constituency by the central and state governments, and they have resolved to send her to Parliament with a huge margin,” said Singh.
However, a Rashtriya Janata Dal leader corroborated the claim of the BJP district president and admitted that the Congress nominee’s ‘outsider’ tag was a problem. “We are supporting Meiraji here, but we can’t fight the campaign against her here,” he admitted.
Again, another BJP leader Prem Prakash Pandey raised the issue of Kumar not being accessible enough. “Can anyone call Meiraji? Can anyone go to her directly?” Pandey asked, alleging, “Most of the time during her tenure as MP, she stayed outside the constituency, causing people immense problems.”
Hardware trader Triveni Prasad, commenting on the issue, said, “The Congress candidate remained in Delhi most of the time, and visited the constituency just a few weeks before the elections were announced.”
Much to the chagrin of the Congress here, even party leader Kashi Nath Mishra kept mum over the question of Meira Kumar being accessible to her electorate.
Out of the six assembly segments in the Sasaram parliamentary constituency, Bhabua, Mohania (SC), and Chainpur have BJP MLAs; JD(U) won Karagahar; while Chenari RLSP MLA Lalan Paswan has formed a new party Rashtrawadi Lok Samta Party. Only the Sasaram assembly belongs to RJD, the Grand Alliance ally of the Congress.
May 13, 2019 15:13 IST