Caste mobilisation favours the opposition in Bihar

Reports that Chirag Paswan may contest from a second seat strengthened speculation that NDA found itself on a sticky wicket in Bihar during the first phase of polling

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Farhana Kalam

RJD leader Lalu Prasad’s social re- engineering appears to have worked again in the first phase of polling in Bihar. NDA appeared to be struggling to retain the seats it had easily won in 20014.

All the four seats that went to polls in the first phase on Thursday are held by the NDA. By available indications, all its candidates including the two new recruits were struggling against odds to make it to the Lok Sabha. The new recruits, one of them the brother of dreaded don Suraj Bhan, found themselves on s sticky wicket.

According to the political grapevine, fearing trouble in Jamui, Chirag Paswan, crown prince of the LJP, may contest from a second seat, that of Hajipur, the seat held by his father Ram Bilas Paswan for long. The senior Paswan has already hung up his boot and now eyes a seat in Rajya Sabha, the house of elders.

Officially, Chirag’s uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras is tipped to contest the Hajipur seat. For the record, LJP spokesperson Ashraf Ansari denied rumours about Chirag contesting from a second seat. Polling for the Hajipur seat is scheduled for the fifth phase on 6 May’2019.

According to activist SB Bhaskar, though NDA candidates seemed to be struggling in all the four phase I seats, its prospects appeared the weakest in the Aurangabad seat where the election appeared to have taken a forward-backward turn. Backwards heavily outnumber the upper castes in Aurangabad. BJP had fielded its sitting MP Sushil Singh, who was challenged by Upendra Prasad, a member of the Extremely Backward caste. Prasad is a Dangi (sub caste of the vegetable growing Kushwahas). Massive polarisation of votes against Singh was reported during the day.

Gaya is regarded as a key constituency on account of the presence of Ex CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, the Grand Alliance candidate. A few days back, Jitan Manjhi created ripples in political circles by vetting Lalu’s statement that soon after his second birth in the NDA, CM Nitish Kumar wanted to return to the Grand Alliance.

According to Manjhi, not only just Nitish but Ram Bilas Paswan too wanted to jump back to the Grand Alliance. He (Manjhi) claimed to have advised Lalu not to take back the discredited leaders. Paswan, in any case was a spent force and Nitish did not have his own political base.

CM’s chair was Nitish’s only base. Take the chair away and Nitish would be a political pygmy, said Manjhi. In Gaya, the ex CM is said to be having a definite edge over his JD(U) rival, a political rookie.

It is only in Nawada Parliamentary constituency where the NDA candidate was giving Vibha Devi, his RJD rival, a run for her money.

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