Ujiarpur/Begusarai: An energetic campaign boosted by his image of being a trenchant critic of the Modi government has propelled CPI’s Kanhaiya Kumar into the centre stage of electoral contest in Begusarai seat but many see his rising graph posing a bigger threat to the opposition RJD than the ruling BJP.
The BJP supporters in Begusarai and other Lok Sabha seats in the region, which will vote, April 29, assert that the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains a big draw for voters, while the opposition’s alliance is hoping to counter it with its social arithmetic at several places.
If the Modi factor is powering the BJP’s campaign, the alliance of Lalu Prasad’s RJD, Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP and the Congress is betting on a formidable social equation in these seats, including Ujiarpur, where Kushwaha is taking on Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai to make the going difficult for the saffron party. Both Ujiarpur and Begusarai were won by the BJP in 2014.
CPI has fielded Kumar, former JNU student’s union leader, this time from Begusarai, while BJP has brought in Union Minister Giriraj Singh, who had won from Nawada last time. The BJP candidate has made Modi his main weapon.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) is now a BJP ally, boosting the saffron party’s prospects in Begusarai, but the 32-year-old former Kumar is threatening the traditional social equations with his high-pitched electioneering.
The fact that a number of public figures like actor Prakash Raj and lyricist Javed Akhtar, vocal critics of the Modi government, have come to the town to campaign for him, has strengthened the perception that he poses a better challenge to the BJP than RJD’s Tanveer Hasan, a soft-spoken leader who many believe lacks Kumar’s appeal and connect.
Villagers in Bachhwara, where Yadavs – the backbone of RJD’s support – hold sway, display open sympathy for Kumar and many say they will vote for him while several others insist that they cannot help but support ‘our leader Lalu when he needs us the most’.
“Kanhaiya takkad de sakta hai BJP ko (Kanhaiya can challenge the BJP),” Rambadan Rai stated. Arvind Kumar, another local, claimed the CPI leader is the voice of people and deserves to be in Parliament. Many anti-BJP voters say they will wait till the day of polling to decide whom to back between Kumar and Hasan.
Shakeel Ahmed, an RJD worker, stated that Muslims have sympathy for Kumar because of his strident stand against the BJP and the RSS but the community may end up backing the RJD candidate. “You need anywhere between four to five lakh votes to win. Just because Kumar is the CPI candidate, the Left is thinking they will get so many votes, but then that is not the case,” said Ahmed.