The tallest Dalit leader of India during his lifetime, Jagjivan Ram has been made irrelevant by all political parties, including the Congress in the coming Bihar Assembly elections.
This is reflected in the pathetic condition of his birthplace, Chandwa, 55 km from Bihar’s capital Patna. The former deputy Prime Minister’s house remains marooned by Ganga waters every year during floods while his samadhi too remains submerged under water during the monsoons.
The two statues of Jagjivan Ram and his wife Indrani Devi are under wraps for the last two years because their unveiling programme was cancelled twice this year.
On both occasions, President Pranab Mukherjee, who was scheduled to unveil the statues, could not come.
The great Dalit leader’s village still has huts of the Musahars and other Mahadalit community members.
Pigs can be seen moving in the lanes leading to Jagjivan Ram’s residence, which is the only pucca house in the village.
Reeta, a Mahadalit woman whose mud house collapsed due to heavy rains, said that the administration was indifferent to the problems of the village, and hence the local youth were migrating to Ara in search of a livelihood.
She alleged that Ram’s daughter, Meira Kumar, who was the Speaker of the Lok Sabha until 2014, rarely visited the village situated on the Ara-Buxar National Highway 84.
Ram’s house is looked after by a caretaker named Keshavdayal and Shashi, the great-grandson of Jagjivan babu’s brother Sant Lal. He too is unemployed.
Ashok Ram, a member of Musahar community of the village, said that there was no support from the government though the village was located on the highway.
He said that the circle and block development officers last visited the village to perform the annual rites on the death anniversary of Jagjivan Babu.
Nanji Ram, a 25-year-old youth of the village who earns by plying a handcart in Ara town, said there were no jobs in the village.
Chand Deo Ram, a rickshaw puller in Ara town, who described Jagjivan Ram as “Desh Ka Malik” or nation’s saviour, lamented that even the children from the village were unable to go to school as the school building was in a very poor shape.
Jagjivan Babu’s brand of politics has become irrelevant in Sasaram which elected him to Lok Sabha for several terms. Followers of Jagjivan Ram are denied tickets even by the Congress party.
Even a big section of the Mahadalit community here has shifted their political loyalty to the Communist Party India ML.
Ramnaresh Ram, CPI ML leader of Ekwarai village under Sahara police station, was elected to state Assembly from this seat.
Srikant, director of the Jagjivan Ram Institute of Parliamentary Studies and Political Research, a state government run academic research institute in Patna, said that no research has been done so far on Jagjivan Ram’s political contribution to the state.
“Jagjivan Babu has been overshadowed by the emergence of new Dalit and Mahadalit leaders of Bihar,” he said.