The party is also keen on using the 33-year-old leader’s star power to bargain for a bigger share of seats to contest the Bihar assembly election.(HT PHOTO.)
The party is also keen on using the 33-year-old leader’s star power to bargain for a bigger share of seats to contest the Bihar assembly election.(HT PHOTO.)

Kanhaiya Kumar to campaign for Bihar assembly polls from August, says CPI leader

Kanhaiya had contested the Lok Sabha polls of 2019 from the Begusarai seat and had finished second by polling 2.69 lakh votes against BJP’s Giriraj Singh, who won the seat eventually.
By Anirban Guha Roy | Edited by Sohini Sarkar | Hindustan Times, Patna
UPDATED ON JUL 11, 2020 11:31 PM IST

Amid indications that the Left parties are keen to join the Grand Alliance for the forthcoming Bihar Assembly polls, the Communist Party of India (CPI) has begun preparations to launch former JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar for campaigning from August.

The party is also keen on using the 33-year-old leader’s star power to bargain for a bigger share of seats to contest the Bihar assembly election.

State secretary of CPI, Satyanarain Singh, confirmed that Kanhaiya Kumar, who is out on bail after being arrested on sedition charges in February 2016, will campaign for the party in the forthcoming polls.

Singh said the Grand Alliance must recognize the youth leader’s popularity among the youth. In early February, Kumar had undertaken a statewide tour of Bihar called the ‘Jan-Man-Gan’ yatra to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).

“Kanhaiya Kumar is a big draw among the youth and has the ability to garner votes. We feel the Grand Alliance would benefit from his popularity during campaigning. He will come to Bihar in August,” he said.

Kanhaiya had contested the Lok Sabha polls of 2019 from the Begusarai seat and had finished second by polling 2.69 lakh votes against BJP’s Giriraj Singh, who won the seat eventually.

Hints of the CPI joining the Grand Alliance initially came after the recent meeting of Congress’s Bihar in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil and Singh in Patna. Sources said the CPI was set to put forth a demand for 40 assembly seats from the Grand Alliance.

In the 2015 Assembly elections, the party had contested on 81 seats and garnered only 1.4% votes. The CPI has no MLAs in the state but has two MLCs.

“We are keen on joining the Grand Alliance to defeat the NDA. But we want a respectable number of seats,” Singh said.

Asked whether the Grand Alliance would consider giving 40 seats to the CPI, the party’s state secretary said the RJD-Congress combine had already paid a big price by not aligning with it in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “Kanhaiya had come second in the Begusarai parliamentary seat whereas the RJD candidate came in third. In 1990s, we had a strong presence of 26 MLAs in the RJD-led government,” Singh said.

The CPI-ML (liberation) and CPM too are said to be in negotiations with the Grand Alliance leaders. “We will hold talks with the Grand Alliance leaders on seat sharing after July 20. The process has got delayed due to the lockdown in Patna,” said CPI-ML’s state secretary Kunal.

A delegation of the party had met RJD’ state president Jagdanand Singh 10 days back for formal talks on the alliance but nothing concrete has come up so far.

Evidently, the demand for a bigger share of seats from Left parties is going to throw up a new challenge for the RJD in stitching a broader alliance amid the growing rift in the Grand Alliance over demand for a co-ordination committee and resistance against Tejashwi Prasad Yadav as the chief ministerial face.

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