Bhojpuri stars glow outside Bihar in LS polls

Bhojpuri stars are making it big in national politics but they seem conspicuous by their absence in the electoral battle in Bihar, the very springhead of the language spoken in places as far-off as Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago. Manoj Tiwari, who hails from the state’s Atarwalia village in Kaimur district, has made Delhi his political “karma bhoomi” while in Uttar Pradesh, Ravi Kishan and Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirahua’ are seeking re-election from seats close to their native places.

In the run-up to Lok Sabha polls, there was a lot of buzz around Pawan Singh, a native of Arrah, entering the fray. He got a ticket, but, surprisingly, from West Bengal, and withdrew from the contest following a controversy. Speculations are rife that internet sensation Neha Singh Rathore would get a Congress ticket ever since she attended a number of party events, including Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’.

“Several Bhojpuri superstars are in the fray for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, but none has been fielded from Bihar, the epicentre of the regional film industry, or neighbouring Jharkhand”, said Gunjan Kumar, the lone popular Bhojpuri/Magahi singer who has thrown his hat in the ring from Bihar.

Kumar is contesting as an Independent candidate from Nawada Lok Sabha constituency. Polling will take place in Nawada on April 19.

Speaking to PTI, Kumar said he approached all major political parties to make him a candidate from his hometown, Nawada. But, none agreed, forcing him to contest as an Independent.

“It appears that now political parties are taking no interest in fielding Bhojpuri singers/actors from Bihar itself in the LS polls”, said the singer.

However, in the assembly, Bhojpuri singer Vinay Bihari is a BJP MLA from the Lauriya assembly seat in West Champaran.

Kumar said, “If I remember correctly, Shatrughan Sinha, popularly known as Bihari Babu, was the last actor who contested LS polls from Patna Sahib constituency and won two times. After that, he was denied a ticket in 2019. But now he is seeking re-election from Asansol (West Bengal) Lok Sabha seat”.

Echoing a similar view, three-term BJP MLA from Lauriya assembly seat, Vinay Bihari, told PTI, “It is true that major political parties have become a little bit apprehensive about giving Lok Sabha tickets to Bhojpuri actors/singers from Bihar itself. They (actors/singers) get Lok Sabha tickets from other states, but not from Bihar”.

The BJP had given ticket to Shatrughan Sinha from Patna Sahib in 2014, which he won, but after that no Bhojpuri actor or singer was given Lok Sabha ticket from Bihar, said Bihari, adding the JD (U) had also given Lok Sabha ticket to filmmaker, Prakash Jha, in 20214 from West Champaran.

“I can understand this pain. I contested as an Independent candidate in 2010 when I first won the Lauriya constituency. After that, I joined the BJP and won two elections in 2015 and 2020. No parties were willing to give me a ticket in the 2010 assembly polls”, said Bihari.

“In my entire career, I have written 22,000 Bhojpuri songs so far for almost all Bhojpuri stars. There are 750 Bhojpuri movies in which my songs are there. But it does not matter at all… Bhojpuri is a language which is world-wide popular as Bhojpuri-speaking people live in Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and other parts of the Caribbean, but it’s not getting its due respect in Bihar. I am hopeful that things will change in the coming years”, said Bihari.

Popular Bhojpuri actor and BJP’s nominee for Gorakhpur LS constituency, Ravi Kishan, told PTI, “It’s not like that at least in the case of our party (BJP). Our top leadership analyses every aspect, including different social equations, before giving tickets to any person that includes Bhojpuri actors and singers. Party tickets are always given to the most deserving candidate. Same is the case in Bihar also.”

“I am sure that in the coming years, our party will field Bhojpuri actors and singers from Bihar itself. Let me tell you one thing very clearly the entire Bhojpuri film industry and Bhojpuri-speaking electorates are with our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi Ji, and the BJP,” said Ravi Kishan, who has worked in several Bhojpuri, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada films.

Talking to PTI, senior RJD leader and party’s spokesperson (Bihar unit), Mrityunjay Tiwary, told PTI, “There are several factors which are taken into consideration while giving Lok Sabha tickets by the top leadership. Our party supremo, Lalu Prasad ji has always given due respect to Bhojpuri artists. I am sure that in the coming years, our party, under the leadership of Tejashwi Prasad Yadav ji, will think over fielding Bhojpuri actors/singers in the Lok Sabha polls”.

Roy Walsh

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