Jehanabad: JD-U struggles to retain seat it won in 2019 by a whisker - Hindustan Times
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Jehanabad: JD-U struggles to retain seat it won in 2019 by a whisker

By, Jehanabad
May 28, 2024 09:29 PM IST

Chandeshwar Prasad, who won the seat in 2019 by 1,751 votes, is again facing off the runner-up, RJD candidate and strongman Surendra Prasad Yadav

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Chandeshwar Prasad of the Janata Dal (United) won the Jehanabad Lok Sabha seat for National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in a photo finish after a protracted counting of votes, defeating Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) nominee and strongman Surendra Prasad Yadav by 1,751 votes.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar addresses a public meeting in support of JD-U candidate Chandeshwar Prasad in Jehanabad. (HT photo)
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar addresses a public meeting in support of JD-U candidate Chandeshwar Prasad in Jehanabad. (HT photo)

Five years later, the common refrain here is that Chandeshwar Prasad might find it tough to retain the seat, given the changed poll arithmetic.

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While RJD has again fielded Surendra Prasad Yadav, an MLA and former minister in the state, Arun Kumar, who had won the seat for the NDA in 2014, is in the fray on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket.

The field is further crowded with former MLA and RJD rebel Munilal Yadav in the fray as an Independent and Ashutosh Kumar, a local Bhumihar community leader, fighting as an Independent.

“Chandeshwar Prasad won the last election riding the Modi wave. But he disappointed us by not visiting our village, like others, after winning the elections. We don’t know how looks like,” says Mevalal Chaudhary (49) of Kako village.

Munshi Prasad (54) of the same village chips in, “Surendra Yadav, who is currently MLA of Belaganj in Gaya, keeps on visiting the villages wherever he is invited.”

Considered the land of great poet Vanbhatta, Jehanabad has been a socio-politically conscious district. Owing to its fertile land, irrigated by the waters of Punpun, Sone and Falgu rivers, the region provided enough fodder for the socialism to flourish. Communism dominated the Jehanabad parliamentary constituency, comprising six assembly constituencies of three districts, Jehanabad, Arwal and Gaya, till the 1996 elections. But the left front collapsed as soon as RJD withdrew support from CPI. Since 1998, the socialists have been fighting against each other in the constituency, having almost equal dominance of Yadavs and Bhumihars.

“Equations may change this time, as Yadavs and Muslims have closed ranks in favour of RJD. A sizable chunk of Dalit votes may also switch over to RJD. In 2019 elections, CPI nominee Kunti Devi had bagged over 26,000 votes, while former MP Arun Kumar, who then fought as Rashtriya Samata Party (Secular) candidate, had polled over 34,000 votes. Arun Kumar this time is contesting as BSP nominee and complicating problem for JD(U), owing to his reputation among Bhumihar and Dalit communities,” says Ram Jatan Sharma of Nonhi village.

Ranjan Patel, a native of Keshavpur Nonhi village, however, is confident that free ration scheme and other welfare schemes of the state government might not allow fragmentation of votes of the deprived sections. “Nitish Ji has empowered the extremely backward castes (EBC) and Dalit communities. They are trusted votes of the NDA,” Patel says.

Bhagat Singh of Vaina village, situated on Jahanabad-Rajgir road, says farmers, particularly of Bhumihar community, are still undecided. “In the last parliamentary elections, former MP Jagdish Sharma and Munger MP Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh had extensively campaigned in the constituency to mobilise Bhumihar votes. Jagdish Sharma has now isolated himself,” he says.

Anil Sharma of Ghosi village says Ashutosh Kumar could spoil JD(U)’s bid to consolidate Bhumihar votes. “How can we ditch him (Ashutosh Kumar), as he as been fighting for the cause of our caste? Wife of former MP Shahabuddin, Heena Sahab, will also be campaigning for him,” Sharma says.

Results of the last assembly elections held in 2020 are also not favourable for the sitting MP. All the six assembly seats — Arwal, Kurtha, Jehanabad, Ghosi, Makhdumpur and Atri — in the Jehanabad parliamentary constituency are held by RJD and CPI(ML).

In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, JD(U) had led only in Kurtha and Atri seats.

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