Lok Sabha Election 2024, Nitish Kumar: Bihar’s Tharu Tribes Called Nitish “PaltuRam” In His Own Region 

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Bihar’s chief minister, Nitish Kumar, has been under fire for his frequent shifts of loyalty and political transition, especially from the Tharu tribes in the Valmikinagar area.

Nitish Kumar
Source: Google [Image by Business Standard]

Here at Valmikinagar, in the foothills of the Himalayas, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has launched many State-wide yatras (tours), far from the stuffy corridors of the Patna Secretariat. The Tharu tribes of the terai regions, a stretch of territory on the foothills along the Indo-Nepal border, call Tharuhat, also known as that, home.

Since taking office as chief minister in 2005, Mr. Kumar has initiated terai development initiatives valued at billions of dollars. However, people of all ages are irritated by the government’s constant renegotiation in order to hold onto power and prohibition this election season.

Surrounded by the 900 square kilometer Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve in the West Champaran district of Bihar, Tharuhat is home to around 300 villages. There are about 3 lakh Tharus, the most of whom live in forests, however some also work in agriculture. Theravada Buddhism is supposed to have inspired the tribe’s name, and its members believe they are descended from the Buddha. The tribe was formally granted Scheduled Tribe status in May 2003.

“We decline to vote for Nitish Kumar. He is a palturam (turncoat) who put us under darubandi (prohibition),” Ghanshayam Rai, a vendor at Valmikinagar’s twice-weekly Friday market, said. Another seller, Gautam Mahto, made the joke, “Daru (alcohol) and Tharu cannot be separated.” He stated, “Some Tharus might support the RJD candidate this time, but not Nitish Kumar’s.”

In the Bagaha-2 block’s Kanbhushari hamlet, where the majority of young Tharu youngsters have moved to seek employment in Gujarat, Punjab, Mumbai, and Gurugram, Satyanarayan Mahto, 60, and Ramchandra Mahto, 62, said they would vote for the BJP rather than Mr. Kumar’s candidacy.

Mr. Satyanarayan questioned, “Kya karen? “, after stating that Mr. Kumar is a BJP ally and that the Chief Minister will ultimately receive their support. Though Modi jaruri hai, nitish majboori hai (What to do? Modi is a must, but nitish is a compulsion).

When it came to their decision, the Tharu women were more reserved. “We will choose on election day who will cast ballots for. We’re still debating,” 56-year-old Sharda Devi remarked. “You should understand it better,” remarked deceptively a 28-year-old voter named Pramila Devi.

The first-time Tharu voters, who are young and stylish, are also displeased with Nitish Kumar’s political transformation into “Kursi” Kumar at Champapur Bazaar in the busy village of Harnatand. They are annoyed that the former “Sushasan Babu” of Bihar had to constantly change allegiances in order to stay in power. Ghanshyam Rai declared, “We’ll vote for anyone, but we won’t support Nitish Kumar’s candidate.” “What if, after gaining the seat, he makes another switch? We’ll feel ashamed once more,” he declared.

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