Only two of the 12 contestants for the Patna Sahib constituency that is going to the polls on May 7 are hogging all the limelight.
For, they are Bollywood stars BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha, 62, and Congress’s Shekhar Suman, 49.
In a state where caste equations often decide electoral fates, both Sinha and Suman are from the same Kayastha community, comprises nearly 25 per cent of the 16 lakh electorate of Patna Sahib. Since a vote-split cannot be ruled out, support of other communities will prove crucial for both of them.
After Kayasthas, Yadavs and Vaishyas are numerically strong in the constituency, with 3.5 lakh votes each. Muslim votes will also play a vital
role in case of a close finish. Also, Dalits, Kurmis and other forward castes may play important roles even though they are not numerically as strong.
What’s more, the presence of Vijay Kumar Sahu of the Rashtriya Janata Dal's (RJD) and Ram Narayan Rai of the CPI-ML (Liberation) makes the contest quite interesting, as both have done rigorous campaigning and have pockets of influence.
Both the Bollywood stars have, however, described themselves as “sons of the soil” and vowed to make themselves available for Patna Sahib’s development as and when required.
For Shatrughan, the National Democratic Alliance tag and Nitish Kumar’s development agenda may come in handy. He has been harping on development of Bihar under the NDA rule and the improved law and order situation to woo the educated sections and the youth.
But the fact that RJD’s Ram Kirpal Yadav defeated BJP’s CP Thakur in this constituency in 2004 gives hopes to both Suman and Sahu. Suman, though a rookie in politics, has also been using the development agenda to target Bade Bhaiya (Shatrughan Sinha), for not having done enough for Patna.