Outgoing Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar will bank on votes of backward castes and Muslims besides Dalits to win this Parliamentary seat for third consecutive time amid allegations that she has made more visits to foreign countries than to her constituency.
Accusing Kumar of neglecting her constituency, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi recently claimed that Kumar had little time to work for her constituency and it was neglected and under-developed.
According to an RTI filed by a social activist, in the last five years, Kumar spent 176 days abroad and only 58 days in her constituency.
There are over 2.5 lakh Dalit voters out of total 15 lakh electors in Sasaram which has six assembly constituencies, three each in Rohtas district and neighbouring Kaimur district. While Sasaram, Chenari (reserved) and Karghar fall in Rohtas, Bhabua, Mohania (reserved, SC) and Chainpur are in Kaimur district.
Though 11 candidates are in the fray in this SC reserved seat, going to polls on April 10, Kumar’s fight is likely to be mainly with BJP’s Cheddi Paswan, who had defeated her twice in 1989 and 1991 as a Janata Dal candidate. Paswan joined BJP recently.
After losing to Paswan, Kumar did not contest from Sasaram and instead fought from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. She returned to Sasaram in 2004 when she won it for the first time. She retained the seat in 2009.
Kumar’s father and Dalit icon Jagjivan Ram won from this seat eight times from 1952-1984.
Development is likely to be a major issue this time.
Dwarka Singh Kharwar, former head of Peepardih panchayat, says there are no roads in villages and people have to walk almost 20-km to come to market.
Head of Garh panchayat, Moti Uroan, says people in areas in Kaimur mountain range still long for drinking water and irrigation despite having a high-profile representative.