Election Campaign in Siwan

(Com. Nand Kishore Prasad, Secretary of the North-West Regional Committee, Bihar, has sent us this report on our election campaign in Siwan)

In the parliamentary elections in Siwan, we were being considered as a strong competitor by the common people. This was because of two reasons: one, we had already won two assembly seats falling within this parliamentary constituency (Mairwan and Darauli); two, our votes totalled more than that polled by the BJP.

After all the parties had declared their candidates, there was a strange turn in the situation. We decided to contest this election on the issue of criminalisation targeting the criminal candidate fielded by Janata Dal. On the question of criminalisation we raised three issues: (1) the Jeeradei carnage perpetrated by the JD candidate; (2) the Babhanauli massacre in which seven dalits were brutally killed by Janata Dal goons; and (3) the arrest of Comrade Amar Yadav. In this way we portrayed Janata Dal as a party patronising criminals. In response, the JD tried to mobilise the feudal forces belonging to upper castes by promising an end to 'terrorism' and liberation from the M-L terror. The whole propaganda during the election period was centred on these two opposite issues. As for BJP, it remained passive during this period. The lumpen section of Yadav community took active role but by and large common people of that community remained silent. The two election meetings addressed by Laloo Yadav were poorly attended whereas our election meeting was the most successful one in this constituency.

In our planning we had aimed at securing at least one lakh votes in the two assembly segments (Mairwan and Darauli) from where we had earlier won. And then, from the third assembly segment (Raghunathpur), we planned to at least double our votes from what we polled in the recent assembly elections, i.e., 20,000 at least. In the remaining three assembly segments, namely Siwan, Jeeradei and Maharajganj, we had to gather votes on the basis of our intensive propaganda and mass contact. However, in the election, owing to our weakness in the preparations for resisting booth capturing by rivals in Darauli segment we could only maintain the assembly election vote figures there. In Mairwan, we succeeded in increasing our votes by 7,000 from the assembly election figures. In Raghunathpur, we achieved the target by increasing our votes by 10,000. We polled around 10,000 both in Siwan and Maharajganj and 7,000 in Jeeradei. In total we got 1,09,358 votes in the Siwan parliamentary constituency.

When during the election propaganda we observed that middle classes were gravely terror-stricken in the face of the criminal candidate of Janata Dal, we projected this parliamentary election as a 'plebiscite' against criminalisation. The appeal gained much currency among the middle strata. In every assembly segment we were operating two propaganda jeeps. Boarding a jeep our candidate was himself conducting a mass-contact campaign through small meetings, in the three assembly segments where we had very little work. We also brought out a "social justice chariot" with a large cut-out of Comrade Amar Yadav mounted on it. It was led by Comrade Satyadev Ram, the legislator from Mairwan. We had opened 8 election offices in the entire parliamentary constituency. One team each from Yadav and Koiri communities were touring in the mass contact campaign. No block-level or panchayat-level cadre was allowed to board propaganda jeeps. They had been directed to solely concentrate on tactical preparations, and they did that.

Anti-Booth Capture Campaign

Large-scale booth capturing took place only in the assembly segments of Siwan and Jeeradei, and also in that part of Darauli segment which borders with Jeeradei. And in these two segments we did not have enough strength to offer resistance and the administration had ostensibly given them a free hand. The booth capturing led to the massacre in Satpokharia. This place falls within Siwan municipality where four booths are placed adjacently. We had speculated that JD candidate will make an attempt here for booth-capturing. So we had made preparations to resist it. Our comrades stood in resistance for one hour in face of a large detachment of goons armed with 40-50 rifles, and ultimately prevented them from getting inside the booths. Frightened with this defeat, the Shahabudin gang killed two old persons and a child and fled away.

Our greatest weakness in this election campaign was that we faced complete isolation from the Muslim community. We could not succeed in breaking this isolation. Supported by JD and the administration, the goons from Muslim community ran amuck displaying their arms openly. The whole parliamentary constituency seemed to have been divided between two camps: Hindus and Muslims. We had to prevent BJP from taking advantage of this situation on the one hand, and on the other, avoid the danger of getting isolated from both the sides by standing blindly in favour of Muslims. So, it was a very complicated situation in which we conducted this campaign, and we are still endeavouring to break this isolation.