Triangular contest in Dhamdaha revives memories of caste wars in Bihar

By Brajendra Nath Singh

Dhamdaha (Purnia) : Shambhu Bhagat (48) of Haldibari village in Dhamdaha was emotional while recounting the murder of his father and grandfather in bloody caste wars during the closing years of the previous century and later.

Support TwoCircles

After his father, Ganga Prasad Bhagat, was killed in 2000 Shambhu left his village with his wife and two sons, shifting to Janakinagar of Banmankhi in Purnia, about 20 kilometres away, where he runs a small hardware shop.

“I had 5.5 bigha of land for cultivation, which was our bread and butter. But it was also taken over in the caste war. For the last 15 years I am fighting the case with no result yet. I decided to shift to Janakinagar for sake of my next generation,” Shambhu told IANS.

Shambhu is not the only one to have left his village. There are thousands like him in Dhamdaha itself, though it’s no longer an election issue here. For the victims, though, it is an issue that remains uppermost in their minds, even while voting.

Dhamdaha has become a hot seat. Social Welfare minister in Nitish Kumar government, Leshi Singh (41) is seeking votes for a third term. She’s the wife of Butan Singh, who had formed a Rajput militia called North Liberation Army (NLA) and was killed in the caste war.

The NDA has fielded Rashtriya Lok Samata Party’s first timer, Shiv Shankar Thakur (60), against her. Former RJD legislature, Dilip Kumar Yadav (52) has also jumped into the fray as Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party’s candidate, making it a triangular contest.

In seat sharing arrangement among the Grand Alliance of JD (U), RJD and Congress, the Dhamdaha constituency went to JD-U, which angered Dilip Kumar Yadav.

In 1995, Yadav had won this seat for the first time as Janata Dal candidate defeating Madhusudan Singh, an independent candidate. In the next election he contested as Rashtriaya Janata Dal candidate but lost. Subsequently, he lost to Leshi Singh defeated him.

Yet, in 2005 he was able to defeat Leshi Singh, who won back the Assembly seat in a mid-term poll eight months later.

In 2010, Leshi Singh defeated Irshad Ahmed Khan of Congress and became a minister in the JD-U-led government.

A largely agrarian area, Dhamdaha farmers feel cheated.

“Farmers of the area are in pathetic condition as there is hardly any support from the government. In April, when a storm came, our crops were completely damaged and still we are waiting for compensation, says Chutkun Jha (80) of Dakshin Tola who left a government job in 1968 to save his land.

“No one cares for us. Elections have come so everybody will come now for vote but after winning they would not even come to say thanks,says Mohd. Tahir, who said he was fed up with politicians.

According to another farmer, Ram Narayan Mandal, “Only caste and money matters in Dhamdaha during election.

Dhamdaha, has 2.8 lakh voters witha a mixed population of Yadav, Brahmin and Muslims in similar proportions.