The seven Lok Sabha seats in the second phase of the elections in Bihar on April 17 promise to bring a personal sense of joy or despair, as the case may be, to each of the Big 3 leaders in the state this time.
This is because BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad have staked their personal goodwill on one or more of these seats.
In Buxar in south-central Bihar, former state health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey, one of Modi’s core supporters in Bihar, is in the fray.
At an election meeting in Buxar on April 2, Modi referred to his close personal equation with Choubey, described Buxar as a ‘mini-Kashi’ and promised to be “on call” in Kashi (Varanasi), about 125 km west of Buxar.
Like Modi with Choubey, Nitish Kumar has lent his personal touch to the campaign for JD(U) candidate Anil Kumar Sharma of the Amrapali real estate group for the Jehanabad seat. Rahul Kumar, the sitting JD(U) MLA from Ghosi assembly segment of Jehanabad, said Nitish had already addressed five election meetings on behalf of Sharma, which is more that he has done in any other constituency.
“It is true Nitishji has tried very hard for Anil Sharma. But this is because he expects Sharma to bring a lot of investment to this region that will expedite its development,” Rahul explained.
The other seat Nitish has a special interest in is Nalanda, which has been his pocket borough since the 1996 Lok Sabha polls.
Nitish facilitated three Lok Sabha terms from Nalanda – in 1996, 1998 and 1999 — for George Fernandes, an ‘outsider’. He himself won the seat in 2004 and then got JD(U) worker Kaushalendra Kumar elected in 2009.
As for Lalu Prasad, the RJD chief has a personal stake in the Pataliputra seat where he has fielded his eldest child, Misa Bharti.
“This is Laluji’s personal seat, which he has bequeathed to his first-born. He himself contested from here in 2009 and lost to Ranjan Prasad Yadav of the JD(U), who was once his close associate,” said a seasoned RJD activist.
Faced with a tough contest from Ram Kripal Yadav, who rebelled over Misa’s nomination and joined the BJP, and the JD(U)’s Ranjan, Prasad has put everything he has into the contest in Pataliputra.