As Railways is said to be the lifeline of the nation, it has got more important significance in Bihar when it comes to politics. It is not merely a coincidence that the eastern part of India especially Bihar has got a long list of Railway ministers, who served the country. Now, with the Bihar Assembly election 2020 approaching, politics is again on track with railways covering the maximum ground. Incidentally too, the three tallest leaders of Bihar right now have been the Railways Minister of India at some time or the other. These being Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, and Ram Vilas Paswan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate the historic Kosi Rail Mahasetu (Mega Bridge) to the nation on 18 September 2020 at noon through a video-conference. Apart from this, the Prime Minister will also inaugurate 12 railway projects related to passenger amenities. These include a new railway bridge over the Kiul River, two new railway lines, fiv electrification projects, an electric locomotive shed, and a third line project between Barah-Bakhtiyarpur.
The political land of the Kosi area of Bihar has been very fertile for JDU and RJD while for BJP it remains barren. In the last election, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar together wiped off the NDA. However, this time the political equations have changed. In such a scenario political bet in the Kosi region has become much more interesting.
The Kosi region of Bihar suffers from floods almost every year. Political parties have been reaping their political crops on this destruction, but the situation here remains the same. Neither the devastation of floods in the Kosi area has stopped nor the migration of the local population. Kosi is far from development, nothing has changed during the last 70 years. Despite leaders like former Chief Minister BP Mandal, Lalu Yadav, Bhola Paswan Shastri, and Sharad Yadav have been representing the Kosi region.
The political land in the Kosi area has been very fertile for the JDU and the RJD, while for the BJP it remains barren even today. In the last election, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar together eliminated the NDA. However, this time the equations have changed. Nitish Kumar has again returned to the NDA. Now the BJP is working hard here to bloom lotus with the help of JDU. At the same time, there is a big challenge to NDA from RJD’s Pappu Yadav.
The Kosi division of Bihar consists of three districts, including Madhepura, Saharsa, and Supaul. A total of 13 assembly seats are here in these three districts, out of which only one seat was won by BJP in 2015. In the same election, RJD won 4 and JDU won eight seats. However, JDU lost one seat last year. The Congress, the Left, the Jan Adhikar Morcha, and other parties have not been able to show any special impact in the region for the last two elections.
Madhepura district has four assembly seats, including Alamnagar, Bihariganj, Singeshwar, and Madhepura seats. The Mahagathbandhan had made a clean sweep in the 2015 assembly elections, while the BJP could not even open an account. JDU won the Alamnagar, Bihariganj, and Singeshwar seats and RJD won the Madhepura seat.
RJD captured Saharsa
Saharsa district of Kosi has four assembly seats, including Sonawarsha, Mahishi, Saharsa, and Simri Bakhtiarpur assembly seats. In the 2015 Bihar elections, JDU won the Sonavarsha and Simri Bakhtiarpur seats and RJD managed to win the Mahishi and Saharsa assembly seats. The BJP could not open an account here either. After the JDU MLA became MP from Simri Bakhtiyarpur seat, RJD reclaimed the seat after by-election here. In this way, three seats are occupied by RJD.
Supaul, the third district of the Kosi area, has five assembly seats. This includes assembly seats of Supaul, Nirmali, Triveniganj, Pipra, and Chhatarpur. The NDA was wiped out by the Grand Alliance in the 2015 assembly elections. JDU had won the maximum three seats, Supaul, Nirmali, and Triveniganj. RJD had managed to win the seat of Pipra and BJP bagged lone assembly seat, Chhatrapur.
2010 equation in Kosi
In the 2010 Bihar assembly elections, RJD got just two seats out of 13 seats in three districts of the Kosi division. RJD MLAs won from Mahishi in Saharsa district and Madhepura seat in Madhepura district. JDU had a riot here in 2015 when they captured Alamnagar, Biharganj, Sigenswar, Sonvarsha, Supaul, Pipra, Nirmali, Umbrella, and Triveniganj. In the 2010 assembly elections, the BJP had to be content with the only seat in Saharsa.
Fulfilling the 86-year-old dream
In 1887, a meter gauge link was built between Nirmali and Bhapatiyahi (Saraigad). During the heavy floods and severe Indo Nepal earthquake in 1934, the rail link was washed away and thereafter there was no attempt to restore this rail link for a long period due to the natural nature of the Kosi River.
The Kosi Mega Bridge Line Project was approved by the Government of India during 2003-04. Kosi Rail Mahasetu is 1.9 KM long and has a construction cost of Rs 516 crore. This bridge is of strategic importance along the Indo-Nepal border. The project was completed during the COVID-epidemic, where migrant workers also participated in its completion.
The dedication of this project will fulfill the 86-year-old dream and the long wait of the people of the region. With the dedication of Mahasetu, the Prime Minister will also flag off the Saharsa-Asanpur coupe demo train from Supaul station. Once the regular train service starts, it will prove to be extremely beneficial for Supaul, Araria, and Saharsa districts. This will also make it easier for the people of the region to travel long distances to Kolkata, Delhi, and Mumbai.
The Prime Minister will also inaugurate two new line projects at Hajipur-Ghoswar-Vaishali and Islampur-Nateshwar. Shri Modi will also inaugurate the Karnauti-Bakhtiyarpur link bypass and the third line between Barah-Bakhtiyarpur.
The Prime Minister will also inaugurate railway electrification projects of Muzaffarpur – Sitamarhi, Katihar-New Jalpaiguri, Samastipur-Darbhanga-Jayanagar, Samastipur-Khagaria, Bhagalpur-Shivnarayanpur sections.
According to political commentator and strategist, Amitabh Tiwari, “The Kosi Rail Mahasetu bridge inauguration is likely to help the NDA in the upcoming elections in Bihar. It cements Narendra Modi’s image as a performer who has a development orientation, as the bridge was envisioned way back in 2003-04. At a time when Nitish Kumar is battling anti-incumbency, his popularity ratings impacted by COVID, floods, and migrant crisis, the strategy could be to deflect attention from local issues and contest elections in Modi’s name. To note Nitish won a leadership battle against Modi in 2015, now needs Modi to do his ‘naiyya paar’ over Kosi in 2020.”