Raghopur—a diara (riverine belt)—is the antithesis of the state of Bihar. Consider this. In Bihar, there is one average killing every two hours, one kidnapping every three hours and a cognisable offence every four minutes. The state cabinet has paid scant attention to its duties since April 27, the day CBI director announced Laloo would be chargesheeted. At least four of its secretaries—one recently retired—are in jail in the fodder scam while an additional secretary is absconding. None of this chaos in Raghopur, Laloo's constituency.
Roads are being constructed with gusto with the help of locals who earn a minimum wage of Rs 40 a day. A record of sorts, the Public Works Department completed a Rs 2-crore pontoon bridge in a year—they had two years to finish the project. "We have got azadi. For the first time, we have got a house, thanks to Laloo. We will do anything for him. Let him be sacked, we will bring life to a halt here," warns Ram Chandra Das, an illiterate Dalit at Dahu Das ka Tola. About 150 Dalits have been given government accommodation in the area. They add to Laloo's famed musclepower.
The constituency, nursed sincerely by Udal Narain Rai, has about 45 per cent Yadavs followed by 25 per cent Rajputs and 15 per cent Dalits against a total 2.80 lakh population. Upper caste Rajputs, unlike in other parts of the state, support Laloo for the developmental activities in the area. The road link with Patna has enabled landed Yadavs and Rajputs to sell their dairy products, vegetables and grains in the capital at a higher price; and Dalits are happy with the work they get. "Laloo commands support on such a scale that the Centre will know our might if it dismisses him," says Rai. The real test will come only when and if the Centre acts.