With battlelines crystallising, it is becoming clearer that Bihar is in for serious multi-cornered contests in most of the 40 constituencies in the State. At least 10 union ministers, three former union ministers, one former chief minister and nearly 200 candidates from the mainline political parties, besides independents, are trying their luck in the Lok Sabha elections 2009.
However, the star constituencies—Saran, Patliputra and Hajipur—will witness direct contests between the UPA (without Congress) and the NDA. While RJD chief Lalu Prasad will be locked in a direct fight with BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy in Saran, he will be fighting his one time friend-turned-foe and JD-U nominee Ranjan Prasad Yadav from Patliputra. In a battle of Rams at Hajipur, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan will face a tough challenge from former chief minister and JD-U nominee Ram Sundar Das.
The poll arena this time will also have three important Independents—former NDA convenor George Fernandes from Muzaffarpur and former union minister Digvijay Singh from Banka and Om Prakash Yadav from Siwan.
The Lok Sabha polls would be exciting as at least three national party presidents—RJD chief Lalu Prasad, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and JD-U president Sharad Yadav— and three State party presidents—Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh (JD (U), Radha Mohan Singh (BJP) and Abdul Bari Siddiqui (RJD)—are contesting elections from Munger, Purvi Champaran and Madhubani.
Significantly, Sadhu Yadav’s entry into the Congress has not only turned the electoral strategy of all major political combinations topsy-turvy forcing them to redo their list of candidates but also upturned the electoral fortunes of the grand old party, lying politically inert in Bihar for the past 15 years. Now, with the Congress in poll fray on 37 seats—leaving two for Lalu and one for Paswan—the Bihar electoral arena seems poised for a thriller.
The most important of contests would emerge in Paschim Champaran, Siwan, Gopalganj, Kishanganj, Munger, Darbhanga where intense fight, laced with wit and fire, could be witnessed.
In Paschim Chamapran, the reel-life fight between Sadhu Yadav and the main protagonist in Gangajal will be enacted in real life between filmmaker Prakash Jha and real Sadhu Yadav in the poll arena. BJP nominee Sanjay Jaiswal, son of former MP Dr Madan Prasad Jaiswal, will be the third formidable nominee in the constituency, which is considered the base of the saffron party. The CPM nominee, Ramashray Singh, is also in the fray.
The Gopalganj seat, which has been reserved after delimitation, is poised for a four-cornered contest. The main contestants will be Anil Kumar of RJD, former Minister Purnamasi Ram of JD-U and RJD rebel and former minister Ramai Ram of the Congress. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which has already registered its presence in constituencies bordering Uttar Pradesh, has fielded its nominee from here.
The Siwan Lok Sabha seat will be a litmus test for Mohammad Shahabuddin, the incarcerated sitting MP from RJD. His wife Hina Shahab is making an electoral debut from RJD. She will be locked in a four-cornered contest with JD-U’s Brishen Patel, Congress’ Vijay Shankar Dubey and CPI-ML’s Amarnath Yadav.
The Munger seat will be a prestigious one for the JD-U, as its State president Rajiv Ranjan alias Lallan Singh, will face a challenge from Ram Badan Rai, who was a JD-U MLC before he joined the RJD. He rebelled after the Munger seat, which he was eyeing, went to Singh.
Similarly, Kishanganj is all set to witness a three-cornered fight. While the RJD has re-nominated Union Minister Taslimuddin, the JD-U has fielded Syed Md Ashraf, a local strongman. The Congress is also likely to field either Tausif Alam or Dr Jawed from this seat.
Some of the seats with important women candidates will also be keenly watched. The most interesting will be Hina Shahab as RJD candidate from Siwan, Union Minister Meira Kumar from Sasaram, Union Minister Kanti Singh from Karakat, JD-U nominees Meena Singh and Ashwamedh Devi from Ara and Ujiarpur respectively, BJP nominee Rama Devi from Sheohar, Veena Devi, LJP candidate and wife of don-turned-politician Surajbhan Singh from Nawada, sitting MP Ranjeet Ranjan from Supaul and CPI-ML candidate Madhavi Sarkar, wife of Ajit Sarkar, from Purnia.