Old hands clash for new seat | india | Hindustan Times
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Old hands clash for new seat

RJD’s Abdul Bari Siddiqui betrays his growing anxiety. The newly created Alinagari constituency is poised to witness a clash of old hands at the political game — and past results may not matter.

india Updated: Oct 15, 2010 00:23 IST
Arun Kumar

“Some people brand me as a Muslim candidate. Have I not gone to everyone’s doorsteps?”

RJD’s Abdul Bari Siddiqui betrays his growing anxiety. The newly created Alinagari constituency is poised to witness a clash of old hands at the political game — and past results may not matter.

RJD state president Siddiqui, the five-time Bahera MLA, has a formidable opponent in Manigachhi MLA and JD-U nominee Prabhakar Choudhary. To complicate matters, the Congress has fielded veteran partyman Madan Mohan Jha, making for a three-way race.

With some of Siddiqui’s strongholds disappearing because of delimitation and the loss of Manigachhi as a constituency, both Siddiqui and Choudhary find themselves on uncertain ground.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s development agenda is up against a formidable RJD presence, while the Congress is likely to put up a better show this time.

The RJD did well in Darbhanga district in the last election, bagging six of the 10 seats in 2005. Siddiqui’s support base extends across communities and castes. This time, the stakes are higher, as the RJD tries to retain those seats, if not increase its tally.

JD-U’s Choudhary, a native of Lagma, won from Manigachhi in the February 2005 polls, which produced a hung assembly, but lost in fresh polls in October 2005 to RJD’s Lalit Yadav. He is now banking on Nitish’s development mantra, Dalit and economically backward classes' votes and his own support base, especially among Brahmins and other upper castes.

The Congress candidate, the son of former minister Nagendra Jha, has also represented Manigachhi twice in 1985 and 1990 but lost the last election from Darbhanga. Madan Mohan Jha’s presence has the potential to divide upper caste and Muslim votes.

For residents here, the view on development is mixed. “Even during the RJD regime, it (Alinagar) was the only area in Darbhanga that had good roads,” said Mohammad Jameel, a resident of Alinagar. “Let’s see what happens this time.”