Chirag Paswan LJP mother BIhar polls
Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan seeks the blessings of his mother before leaving for the LJP office for the release of the party's manifesto for the upcoming Bihar elections, in Patna on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. Image Credit: ANI

Patna: Elections have split several families in Bihar which goes to the polls in three phases later this month. There are more than a dozen candidates who are locked in a close contest with their father, brothers, mother-in-law, brother-in-law and relatives. Never in the past have political rivalries gone so deep within families.

The contest has turned interesting in Ramnagar assembly seat in West Champaran district where sitting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Bhagirathi Devi, 70, faces her own daughter-in-law Rani Devi, 41, in the poll arena. Rani, who is young and educated, is challenging her nearly-illiterate mother-in-law as an Independent candidate.

“I will visit every home and expose the development claim of the NDA. I will tell the voters how the local BJP lawmaker has continued cheating them in the name of development,” says Rani who has studied up to Grade 12. Her mother-in-law said she is hardly bothered by her criticisms. “I have been in politics for the past 20 years and know how to handle such elements,” said Bhagirathi Devi who has been winning this seat for the past two terms.

Even more intriguing is the poll scene in Pirpainti constituency under Bhagalpur district where sitting Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) lawmaker Ram Vilas Paswan is locked in a contest with his father Udali Paswan, who too is eager to serve the masses. Ram Vilas had been contesting the state polls since 2010 but won only in 2015. His father who filed his nomination as an Independent candidate is refusing to withdraw from the contest.

Siblings fight

In Jokihat seat of Araia district, two sons of heavyweight Muslim politician late Mohammed Taslimuddin are contesting against each other. While Taslimuddin’s elder son Sarfaraz Alam, three-time lawmaker, has been fielded by the RJD, his younger brother Mohammad Shahnawaz has got a ticket from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM).

Sarfarz had been winning the seat for the past three terms since 2000, but in 2018 he resigned from his seat to contest by-polls to Araria Lok Sabha seat which fell vacant following the death of his father. Eventually, he won elections as his assembly seat was represented by his younger brother. Sarfaraz, however, lost the 2019 LS polls after both brothers approached the RJD for a ticket. Ultimately, Sarfaraz was able to get the RJD ticket which annoyed his younger brother.

The contest is also interesting at Lauria in West Champaran where sitting BJP lawmaker Binay Bihari, a folk singer, faces his sister-in-law Neelam Singh in the poll fray. “For the past 28 years, I have been constantly fighting for the people of my constituency but am shocked to find no development despite the BJP lawmaker winning the seat for the past two terms. This has compelled me to join the poll fray,” says Neelam Singh who is contesting as an Independent.

Contest in the family

The contest is equally fascinating in Narkatiyaganj (West Champaran) where BJP candidate Rashmi Verma is locked in a straight contest with her brother-in-law Vinay Verma fielded by the Congress party. Similarly in Shahpur seat of Bhojpur district, BJP candidate Munni Devi faces her sister-in-law Shobha Devi who is contesting as an Independent.

In Siwan constituency, BJP candidate Om Prakash Yadav is locked in a direct contest with RJD candidate Awadh Bihari Chaudhary who is a relative, while in Madhaura seat of Saran district, a regional party candidate Jairam Rai faces his nephew Anand Rai, an Independent candidate. Such contests have turned the Bihar polls very colourful and interesting this year.