» News » 'Kaante ka takkar' between JD-U and BJP in Bihar

'Kaante ka takkar' between JD-U and BJP in Bihar

By Prasanna Zore
Last updated on: November 07, 2015 23:35 IST
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Patna residents discuss what may happen when the EVMs are unlocked on Sunday morning with Prasanna D Zore/

IMAGE: For voters it's a clash between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Photograph: PTI

Ask folks on the streets of Patna, away from the offices of the two main electoral contenders, the Janata Dal-United and the Bharatiya Janata Party, who among the friends-turned-foes will sweep the Bihar assembly election, and pat comes the answer: "Kaante ka takkar hoga (It will be a tight contest)."

From autorickshaw-wallahs to chai stall owners, everybody expects a tough fight between Nitish Kumar, who has ruled the state for ten years now, and the Narendra Modi-led BJP, which is aiming to dethrone the chief minister.

They may have voted for either of the two parties or their allies on polling day, but the idiom that reverberates on the streets of Patna, just before D-Day on November 8, is "kaante ka takkar...."

Gautam Yadav

Gautam Yadav sells chaat just outside the JD-U office on Bir Chand Patel Road. Yadav's looks belie his middle age as does his bright red Being Human t-shirt.

"Hum toh kal bhi chaat hi bech kar rozi-roti kama raha tha, aaj bhi wahi kar raha hu aur kal bhi wahi karunga na (I sold chaat yesterday, I am doing the same today; tomorrow too you will find me here selling the same chaat)," he says when asked about who will emerge victorious on Sunday.

Prodded a bit, he expects Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal to win at least 25 to 30 seats in Bihar. A Yadav by caste, he holds both Prime Minister Modi and Nitish Kumar in awe.

"Both are messiahs of development and progress," he says.

Sanjiv Yadav

A little up Bir Chand Patel Road, on the opposite side of the JD-U office, is the BJP headquarters. Sanjiv Yadav is outside, busy on his mobile phone, discussing the likely poll outcome.

A smile runs across his face when asked about the electoral result. "Kaante ka takkar hoga," he says.

"Yadav hai toh ka hum Yadav ko hi vote dena jaroori hai ka (Is it necessary that a Yadav should vote only for a Yadav?)," he asks, referring to Lalu Prasad Yadav's rule which cemented the infamous jungle raj image for Bihar.

Unlike Gautam Yadav, Sanjiv Yadav has no faith in Lalu's leadership. "Dushasan ka prateek hai Laluji (Lalu is a symbol of maladministration)," he says.

Sanjiv would have voted for the JD-U had it kept away from Lalu Yadav. "Nitishji helped my wife get a teacher's job in Patna," he says. "Without Nitishji many more like my wife would never have got to become teachers."

Despite speaking about Nitish Kumar in glowing terms, Sanjiv and his wife voted for the BJP.

"If Nitish wins and depends on Lalu for running the administration, then Bihar would go back 15 years to the days of jungle raj," he says.

Lal Paswan and Ganesh Mahto

Lal Paswan and Ganesh Mahto pull rickshaws for more than ten hours every day. The two friends traveled from Purnea to Patna 25 years ago to support their families.

"Kaante ka takkar hoga," says Paswan. "We support the jhopadi (hut, the election symbol of Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party, a BJP ally)," says Mahto.

"He is our only leader. The day he joined hands with the BJP we vowed to vote for the jhopadi and the BJP," he adds.

Dilip Kumar Yadav

Dilip Kumar Yadav is having a good day at work. A tea seller, just outside the BJP headquarters, he is busy serving a number of karyakartas at his makeshift stall on the footpath.

"Jab markit achcha ho toh Rs 25,000 bhi mil jaata hai (I earn Rs 25,000 when business is good)," Yadav says as he serves his clientele.

"When the going gets tough, mostly during the monsoon, earning even Rs 10,000 becomes a task," he adds.

Yadav, 25, has been selling tea and snacks like chura, pakodas and bhajiyas, since he was eight.

"I left school after Class 3," he says.

Yadav and his younger brother Bikas now run the stall after their father's death in 2011.

In a spin on Ab ki baar, Modi sarkar that became an anthem when Narendra Modi campaigned for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Yadav shouts "Ab ki baar, BJP sarkar," to the accompaniment of a loud chorus from BJP workers gathered at his roadside stall.

Ask him if he bribes policemen or municipal officials to run his business, he says, "That stopped after Lalu was trounced by Nitish and the BJP."

Lallan Mahto 


"Aur kissi ka kya jaroorat hai Bihar main? (why do we need other rulers in Bihar?)," asks Lallan Mahto, expressing his strong approval of Nitish Kumar's progressive agenda.

He has been one of the innumerable Biharis whose family has benefitted from Nitish Kumar's welfare programmes, like giving bicycles to girls who go to schools.

At 55, Mahto is father to six children, four daughters and two sons, one of who was born only last year.

A native of Dumri in Bihar's Buxar district, Mahto came to Patna in 1975 and has been a rickshaw puller ever since. He sends close to Rs 5,000 every month to his family in Dumri.

He married three of his daughters after they turned 18. The fourth daughter, he says, quit school this year after passing out Class 9.

"She was scared that she might suffer the same fate as one of her friends," he explains. His daughter's friend was kidnapped on the way to school by lumpen elements in his village and sexually assaulted.

"I don't want my daughter to be in danger," he says, though he insists that was a one off incident.

Tell him that those who oppose Nitish Kumar argue that if he wins power in Bihar in alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav, the state may revert to lawlessness, he says, "I have full confidence in Nitishji's leadership. He has shown it in the ten years of his rule and he will show it to Laluji too, if need be."

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Prasanna Zore in Patna