West Champaran: Three-time BJP MP relies on Modi factor in fourth bid - Hindustan Times
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West Champaran: Three-time BJP MP relies on Modi factor in fourth bid

By, Bettiah
May 20, 2024 09:39 PM IST

Sanjay Jaiswal has won the West Champaran seat thrice since 2009. His father late Madan Prasad Jaiswal won the erstwhile Bettiah Lok Sabha seat thrice, in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

Sitting at his house at Ranipakari village on the outskirts of Bettiah in West Champaran district, former MLA and Congress candidate from the eponymous Lok Sabha constituency, Madan Mohan Tiwari (57), is in an expansive mood, brimming with confidence, despite the fact that his principal opponent, BJP nominee Dr Sanjay Jaiswal, is a heavyweight who has won the seat thrice since 2009.

A road show in support of Sanjay Jaiswal when he filed his nomination as the BJP candidate. (HT file)
A road show in support of Sanjay Jaiswal when he filed his nomination as the BJP candidate. (HT file)

“Aare woh anukampa ki naukri kar raha hai (He is an MP on compassionate grounds),” Tiwari bellows on the top of his voice, taking a jibe at Jaiswal, whose father late Madan Prasad Jaiswal won the erstwhile Bettiah Lok Sabha seat thrice, in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

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“Pata nahi kya dar hai. Hum se woh bhagata phir raha hai. Woh haar gaya. (Don’t know what he fears me. He is running away from me. He has already lost the elections,” Tiwari says.

Five days to go for the polling in West Champaran on May 25, Tiwari’s confidence isn’t very hard to understand. There is some anti-incumbency against sitting MP Jaiswal, for various reasons.

On May 6, Jaiswal was denied entry into Noniyadih village in Raxaul subdivision, where locals accused him of being a visitor only during election time.

Located 15 km from Bettiah, Pakhnaha village under Nautan assembly segment of the parliamentary constituency, displays a similar mood. “Enough is enough. We are sick of same old poll plank. Here, we are languishing,” is the refrain.

On his part, Jaiswal is quick to rattle off his and his party’s achievements — an Indian Oil LPG plant, inauguration of Narkatiaganj -Gaunaha gauge conversion of railway tracks, laying of foundation stones for doubling and electrification of Gorakhpur Cantt-Valmikinagar Railway line section, redevelopment of Bettiah railway station, among others.

Still, signs of cracks in his winning streak are unmistakable.

“15 years is too long to stay faultless. His performance with each passing year has improved and he has delivered several projects related to road, railway and other infrastructure. But yes, our MP is facing grievances for one reason or other, which is quite natural considering the longevity of his tenure,” says a village head in Sagauli block, requesting anonymity.

“Tiwari has got nothing to lose. But stakes are certainly high for the sitting MP here,” said Kundan Shandilya, a Bettiah-based academician and chairman of Lakshya International School.

However, Jaiswal also seems likely to benefit from the welfare schemes started by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

“We only know Modiji,” says Zarina at Turhapatti village in Chanpatiya block.

“You will find the same response from anyone who is a wage earner and poverty stricken,” says Sunita, wnother woman at the same village. “There was the time a time when we had to sweat it out in scorching sun, brave rains in rainy season and biting cold in chilly winters to eke out of living. Ration and toilets, among other benefits, have certainly given us a respite,” she says.

Tiwari is mindful of the Modi factor.

“Sanjay Jaiswal, I dare you to restrict elections to our own personality. I will not take Rahulji’s name, you stop using your party and Modi’s name,” Tiwari tells HT.

Senior Congress leader and party’s observer for West Champaran Lok Sabha seat, Furkan Ansari, too favours a fight between BJP’s Jaiswal and Tiwari.

“Who is to be accessible for common people at Bettiah? Is it Modi or the sitting MP? Who should be blamed for poor development in Pashchim (West) Champaran?” asked Ansari, a former MP from Jharkhand’s Godda.

Union home minister Amit Shah has already campaigned for Jaiswal — he addresed a rally here on May 19. PM Modi is set to address a rally at nearby Motihari on May 21.

“He (Tiwari) needs to keep his overconfidence in check and keep his flock, especially RJD cadres, together. You never know how things will pan out after the campaign of Amit Shah and Modi in the region. Last 48 hours are critical,” said a Congress leader, refusing to be identified.

The sitting MP too mocked his rival. “He is a loudmouth. He must explain why he lost the 2020 assembly elections by a margin of over 18,000 votes.”

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