For, the numerically strong Marwaris, along with the equally preponderant non-Marwari business people like the ‘Sahs from Mirzan Haat’, have always enjoyed the reputation of tilting the balance in favour of any party in any election — whatever the political inclinations of the Muslims and other sections in the town.
As his rival Ajay Mandal from JD(U) is banking on BJP’s support, Bulo has also been hoping for a good chunk of votes from Marwaris and Sahs, who together account for roughly around 90,000 voters in the town. Bulo got constructed the two toilets on the demand of Eastern Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries (EBCCI) president Ashok Kumar Bhiwaniwala in February this year.
“We had demanded one toilet, but he gave two to the bazaar area,” Bhiwaniwala said, adding: “I cannot say if it would bring him votes of the Marwaris and Sahs. But there is no distrust between him and the EBCCI, which has over 4,000 members from Naugachhia, Kahalgaon, Pirpainty, Nathnagar and Jagdishpur.”
Asks Ramesh Prasad Sah, who has his shop near one of the toilets at Variety Chowk: “It is true that the two toilets have benefited people who come to purchase several items and then feel the urge to go to loo. But why should I also vote for him (Bulo)?”
But another businessman Saket Kumar Dokania said, “In the last five years, he (Bulo) had not done anything as an MP for the bazaar area. Last month, he got two good toilets constructed. People were facing a lot of problems for want of toilet. Maybe, they might also vote for him, who knows.”
Yet, the third businessman Kamal Singh added with a disdain, “One or two votes of the Marwaris and Sahs might go to him, not much!”
Shopowner Shankar from Kutcheheri Chowk near Bhagalpur collectorate put it, “Anyone who wins the majority support of people in the town assembly constituency with support of the Marwaris and Sahs might also hope to win the parliamentary constituency!”
By extension, a candidate might be at an advantage with his nearest rival in the remaining five assembly segments — Bihpur, Gopalpur, Pirpainty, Kahalgaon and Nathnagar — but if he or she does not get majority support in the town, the person might lose the parliamentary election.
In the 2014 parliamentary election, the then BJP MP Shahnawaz Hussain narrowed his loss to Bulo to 9,004 votes, because he had overwhelming lead of more than 32,000 votes in the town over his rival.
In 2019, Shahnawaz was denied the ticket as BJP gave the seat to ally JD(U). Today, as it appears, Bulo has breached the town fortress where, otherwise, the voters of the Marwari and Sah businessmen remained inclined towards Congress all through its heydays till the infamous Bhagalpur riots of 1989, after which they switched their political affiliation to the BJP.