Two sons of RJD chief Lalu Prasad entered the electoral politics on Wednesday as their names were announced by chief minister Nitish Kumar for the ensuing five-phase Assembly polls in Bihar.
Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejaswi Yadav will contest from Yadav-dominated Mahua and Raghopur seats respectively as per the list of candidates for the ‘grand secular alliance’ announced by Kumar. Both the seats in Vaishali district were with the JD(U) in 2010. Apprehending the reverse, Mahua MLA Ravindra Rai has joined HAM (S) and has been nominated by that party while at Raghopur, Satish Kumar, who had defeated Rabri Devi in 2010, has joined BJP which has fielded him from the seat.
RJD has chosen Subedar Singh against former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi at Makhdumpur (SC). At Imamganj (SC), the speaker of outgoing Assembly Uday Narayan Chaudhary has been retained to take on Manjhi who is contesting from two seats.
A total of 25 women candidates have been given tickets forming 10% of the total. As per seat sharing, JD(U) and RJD are contesting for 101 seats each while Congress on 41 seats. Kumar said name of the candidate for Rajgir (SC) seat would be declared later.
In reply to a question that while JD(U) has relied on its core support base in Kurmi and Kushwaha castes, RJD tilt is towards backward Yadav caste and Muslims while Congress nominees were mainly from general category, Kumar said, “each party has its area of influence and this has been kept in mind to help others’ candidates.”
State presidents of constituent parties JD(U), RJD and Congress in Basistha-- Narayan Singh, Ramchandra Purbe and Ashok Chaudhary-- were present at the release of list by the chief minister. Immediately after the list of candidates was announced, a large number of people protested at the JD(U) office complaining denial of tickets to persons of their choice.
Kumar and other leaders were present in the party office while slogan shouting was going on outside the gate. All the ministers of Nitish Kumar ministry have been retained except health minister Ramdhani Singh and animal husbandry minister Baidyanath Sahni. Kumar is not fighting the poll himself.
JD(U) has retained former minister Hari Narayan Singh at CM’s home constituency of Harnaut in Nalanda district. Kumar said the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ had planned to release the list on Tuesday evening, but it was deferred for Wednesday as Congress list of candidates arrived late in the night.
A close look at the list highlights that Congress candidates have been selected for majority of seats in urban areas which have been with the BJP for long. Congress’ Kumar Ashish got ticket from Bankipore seat, while the same party’s Aquil Haider would enter the fray from Kumhrar. Both the seats have BJP MLAs for more than two decades.
In Gaya town constituency from where BJP strongman Prem Kumar has been winning since long, Congress’ Priya Ranjan alias Dimple has been nominated. RJD’s Santosh Mehta has been pitted against BJP veteran Nand Kishore Yadav, who is the leader of Opposition at present.
While Congress legislature party leader Sadanand Singh would once again contest from his traditional seat Kahalgaon, his RJD counterpart Abdul Bari Siddiqui would fight from Alinagar seat in Darbhanga district. On four seats in Kisanganj, where Muslims constitute about 70%, the electorate and where Hyderabad MP Asauddin Owaisi is making efforts to win, JD(U) and Congress have fielded two candidates each.