Bihar by-polls: All eyes on Nitish, Lalu, Kanahiya
The bypolls for the two assembly seats in Bihar, though not crucial to the survival of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in the state, has nevertheless become a battle of prestige for the ruling Janata Dal (United) and the main opposition party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
The importance attached to the bypolls for Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan could be gauged from the fact that RJD has decided to field its chief Lalu Prasad for campaigning while the Congress has decided to use the services of newly inducted Kanahiya Kumar after talks with RJD to contest jointly failed.
JD (U), which won both the seats in 2020 polls, would be banking heavily on chief minister Nitish Kumar. The party’s star campaigners also include present president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Sing and union minister R C P Singh, besides former union minister Upendra Kushwaha.
Top Bihar BJP leaders, including state unit president Dr Sanjay Jaiswal, former deputy CM and Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi and others will also campaign,” said a senior BJP leader.
According to JD(U) functionary, CM Kumar would be addressing at least two meetings in each of the two constituencies. “The number of meetings will be increased if required,” he said.
However, all eyes would be on RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress leader Kanahiya Kumar. “Lalu Prasad, who suffers from various ailments, would be campaigning after a long gap and this would be Kanahiya’s first election campaigning after Lok Sabha polls. Both are crowd pullers and it would be interesting to see how they communicate with the voters and their response,” said Gyanendra Yadav, associate professor of Sociology, College of Commerce, Patna.
Nitish Kumar had already started mingling with the voters a month before the elections were announced. “The elections were announced in September last week and CM Kumar had taken a boat ride to Kusheshwar Sthan block in the last week of August,” Yadav said.
What the bypolls mean
Results wise, even if RJD wins both the seats, it is not going to affect the health of NDA government, which has 126 MLAs — BJP (74), JD-U (43) HAM-S (4), VIP (4), besides support of one independent MLA who is a minister. If JD(U) retains both seats, its tally increase to 45. The party won 43 seats in 2020 polls, after which but two MLAs, one from LJP and one from BSP, joined the JD(U).
In the Opposition, the Mahaghathbandhan has 110 MLAs in the 243-member house. RJD has 75 members, Congress 19, CPI-ML 12 and CPI and CPM two each.
Asaduddin Owaisi led-AIMIM has five MLAs. “Even if RJD wins both seats in bypolls an Owaisi’s party supports the RJD-led alliance, it would still be five be short of majority mark of 122.
“The only gain, either for RJD or JD (U), will be a morale booster,” said Sanjay Sinha, professor of English in Patna University.