In Sitamarhi, JD-U nominee surrenders ticket, party fields former BJP MLA
PATNA: Days ahead of the general elections, JD-U had to change its candidate from Sitamarhi after the earlier party nominee, Dr Varun Kumar, an eminent doctor, expressed his unwillingness to contest the polls. The reason for the sudden change of heart on the candidate’s part is not known.
Confirming this, JD-U state president Vashishtha Narayan Singh said Sunil Kumar Pintu would be the new candidate. Pintoo was the BJP MLA for four consecutive terms from 2003 to 2015. However, he will try his luck for the Lok Sabha elections on a JD-U ticket this time. The election in Sitamarhi is scheduled in the sixth phase on May 6.
“Dr Varun Kumar has expressed his unwillingness to contest and we have selected a new candidate. Sunil Kumar Pintu, who was also a minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet, will contest on a JD-U ticket. He has formally been inducted into the party,” Singh said.
According to sources, Dr Varun was in a dilemma after having had an initial brush with the rough and tumble of electoral politics. He had also not got the kind of response, he had expected from senior leaders, before deciding to contest.
“He met chief minister Nitish Kumar and expressed his desire to return the ticket, honestly confessing that it would not be possible for him to contest. He was perhaps not getting full support from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders and being a greenhorn in politics, he decided to give up before filing his nomination,” a senior leader said.
Dr Varun Kumar could not be contacted despite repeated attempts on his mobile number.
Pinu said that it was good news for him when he got a call early on Wednesday morning that the CM wanted to meet me.“I had presented my candidature for my own party from Sitamarhi, but in the seat adjustment it went to JD-U. It is a kind of divine intervention. NDA has sizeable strength in Sitamarhi and its candidate had won both in 2009 and 2014,” he added.
He said that in politics, it was not always easy for a newcomer to immediately settle, as it required one to be in constant touch with political activists. “The rapport cannot be developed overnight. But it is good that he realized it in the nick of time,” he added.
Sitamarhi MLA Sunil Kumar of the RJD, however, wasted no time in taking a potshot at Pintu. “The NDA has been forced to change the wrestler after one gave up even before the bout. No matter who the wrestler is, Grand Alliance (GA) candidate Arjun Rai will romp home. Now, the Suri community, from which Dr Varun belongs, will also feel letdown,” he added.
It was Sunil Kumar who had defeated Pintu in the 2015 assembly elections. Arjun Rai had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on a JD-U ticket, but had come in a distant third. Rashtriya Lok Samata Party candidate Ram Kumar Sharma had won the seat, while RJD’s Sitaram Yadav finished second. Sharma did not get the ticket this time.Rai had won in 2009 on the JD-U ticket.
RJD leader and former MP from Sitamarhi, Sitaram Yadav who was once planning to contest as an independent nominee after having been denied a ticket, said he had decided not to fight the election this time. “For a non-political man, it was always difficult to contest elections. Dr Varun is a good doctor, but in politics even his own party men were not supporting him,” he added.
BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand said that whoever contested from Sitamarhi, the seat would be contested by the NDA. “Pintu is a formidable candidate and has worked in the area for decades. It is an NDA seat and it will remain with us,” he added.