Patna is the capital of Bihar and it is situated near the banks of river Ganges. The distance between Ganges’ either sides is only 2 kilometres but the story of both sides is entirely different. One side belongs to glittering and modern lifestyle of capital city while the other side of the Ganges narrates the story of negligence and government apathy.
You can feel the difference when you board a boat from Patna’s Digha Ghat and head towards the other side that is known as Diara (the piece of land that has got created in the middle of the river Ganges as a result of deposition of sands over the decades). From Diara, one can easily spot the high-rise apartments on the banks of Ganges.
It seems development is a distant dream for Diara. Surprisingly, half of the Diara area belongs to Patna while rest falls under Saran district. But when it comes to development, the entire area is left deserted. The population living in this area is forced to live even without basic amenities. After 68 years of independence, villagers are still waiting for power supply. To overcome the lack of electricity, villagers use batteries to watch televisions and charge their mobile phones.
There is only one primary health centre in the region. In cases of emergency, people take patients to Patna or Chhapra district via boat and during monsoons (August-September), the journey becomes dangerous to ferry patients fron one bank to another.
We also visited a house in Kedalpur village, which falls under Patna and Saran districts both. The entire village population seems to be sandwiched. Gajendra Singh from Dudhiya Village said, "This area has produced three Chief Ministers (Lalu twice and Daroga Prasad Rai once) but this area remains cut off from the rest of the world."
Interestingly, there are 1.25 lakh voters in this area. One part falls under Sonpur Assembly constituency while other is part of Danapur Assembly constituency. But Gajendra says that they have only turned into vote banks for political outfits and their leaders.
Caste overrules development
Sonu Singh from Panapur village said, "Near Dudhiya, there is a village Akkilpura which falls under Chhaspra district but Kedalpura is part of Patna. Both villages are controlled by a single police station which is situated in Patna. You need to visit Patna SP office for Character certificate but the administration work will be done by Dighwara block in Chhapra district.”
Amidst all the difficulties, it is hardly seen that development is an issue in this area. In Diara, Yadavs are in majority. Voters from Panapur and Kedalpura have openly supported Lalu Yadav. Resident Shiv Rai said, "What to do? We have no other choice. Lalu is our leader. We will vote for RJD."
Kedalpura is part of Danapur Assembly constituency where RJD’s Raj Kishore Yadav has locked horns with sitting MLA Asha Sinha. On the other hand, Akkilpura village falls under Sonpur Assembly Constituency where BJP’s Vinay Singh and RJD’s Ram Anuj Rai are in fray. Majority of people in this village belong to upper caste Rajput. Villager Suryanandan Singh said, "We are going to vote for development. We have seen Lalu-Nitish. Now it is the time for change. We have hope from Modi and there is a wave visible in favour of BJP."
Pramod Kumar, who runs an NGO in this area, is of a different opinion altogether. He said, "What can you do? Caste factor is crucial. We have elected CM thrice from this area, that too by voting on caste lines. Development is not a issue here. Vote will be exercised according to the caste this time around too".
However, Pramod agrees that last year during Lok Sabha election the entire political aura was different. Even Yadavs voted for Modi in the Lok Sabha elections.