Bihar election: Peace, the poll slogan in the land of 'bahubalis'

Mokama (Bihar) Peace is the poll slogan in this land of 'bahubalis' (musclemen) with candidates, even those with criminal past or legacy, promising rule of law in the region.

In front of the police station in Mokama bazaar is a poster of don-turned-politician Anant Singh, the sitting MLA, which reads, "Shanti, Vikas wa bhaichaara, Yahi Hia Chhote Sarkar K Naara" (peace, development and brotherhood, this is the poll slogan of Chhote Sarkar).

The poster of NDA candidate Kanhaya Singh, who is younger brother of 'bahubali' former MP Surajbhan, says 'Mokama me shaanti ham ne laayi hai, iske liye ham ne jaan ki baazi lagayi hai (we have brought peace in Mokama staking our life for it)'. Kanhaya Singh is fighting the polls on LJP ticket.

But for many, Anant, who has a penchant for horses and keeping wild animals as pets besides sporting trendy goggles and dresses, is a "protector".
Anant, who has a Robin Hood persona in the region, resigned from JD(U) after a political controversy broke out over the murder of a Yadav youth in which his close associates were jailed.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad attacked him publicly and Anant was finally sent behind bars in a kidnapping case of a builder.

Leaflets of Anant in shackles are being distributed in the constituency to create a sympathy wave and his wife Neelam Devi is touring villages telling people how "Chhote Sarkar", as he is known as in the region, was "victimised" after "having done so much" for Nitish Kumar's government.

Anant is contesting as an Independent candidate from behind the bars. His supporters claim he had played a crucial role in ensuring the exit of a defiant Jitan Ram Manjhi as chief minister infavour of Nitish Kumar.

"This is a fight between Sarkar and Chhote Sarkar," says one of his supporters in Mokama.

"Mokama was a land of gang wars. Ironically, it is the so-called 'bahubalis' who brought a semblance of order here," says Ajay Rai, a school teacher and social worker who had in past worked for Surajbhan for over a decade but is now working for Anant.

The grand alliance candidate is Neeraj Kumar, who is an MLC and spokesperson of the JD(U).

Considered a suave face, Kumar's slogan to people is "Kalam aur bandook ki jung, aap rahenge kiske sang" (It is a fight between sword and the pen. Whom will you ally with?) But his opponents say he did not work in the area and lacks connect with voters.

Mokama is one of the 14 constituencies in Patna district going to polls on October 28. Located at a distance of 90 km in the east of Patna, Mokama was believed to be the resting place or 'mukam' (destination) of armies moving along the river Ganges during the Mughal and British periods.

The area has most of the times been represented by a 'bahubali', especially in the past three decades.

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