A united Left is seeking to reclaim Begusarai, a red citadel that was once known as Leningrad of the East.
Until the 1990s, the communists dominated Begusarai amid Bihar’s largely feudal set-up with the CPI and CPI-M bagging five of the seven assembly seats in 1995.
But the Left, as also its main challenger Congress, began losing grip 20 years ago. In 2010, it managed to win only one seat — Bachhwara represented by Avadhesh Rai. The CPI has re-nominated Avadhesh Rai while the Grand Alliance has assigned the Bachhwara seat to Ramdeo Rai of the Congress. Their NDA rival is LJP’s Arvind Kumar Singh.
The contest among left, right and middle-path alliances is new for Begusarai. But the issues before its people have not changed.
Along with four others, the BJP’s Ram Lakhan Singh, RJD’s Birendra Kumar and CPI’s Ram Ratan Singh are in the fray in Teghra, earlier known as Barauni seat.
In 2010, Ram Ratan Singh lost the Teghra seat to BJP’s Lalan Kumar who has been denied ticket this time. The former’s defeat ended the Left’s winning streak in Barauni that began with Chandra Shekhar Singh’s victory in 1962.
The CPI is contesting five of Begusarai’s seven seats, while a seat each has gone to CPI-M and CPI-ML. The NDA has split the seats into four for BJP and three for LJP. In the Grand Alliance, the JD-U, RJD and Congress are contesting two each.
There are 11 candidates, including former minister Sri Narain Yadav of RJD, Md Aslam of LJP and SM Noor Alam of CPI-ML, in the fray from Sahebpur Kamal. For Begusarai seat, Congress has fielded Amita Bhushan to take on sitting BJP candidate Surendra Mehta.
Veteran CPM leader Rajendra Prasad Singh, who won from Begusarai in 1995, is also in the fray along with five others. In Matihani, sitting MLA Narendra Kumar Singh of the JD-U is eyeing his fourth term against BJP’s Sarvesh Kumar and CPI’s Sobha Devi. CPI lost this seat in 2005.