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Bihar’s Begusarai Lok Sabha seat became a high profile constituency after the Communist Party of India (CPI) decided to field Kanhaiya Kumar, former president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, against Union minister Giriraj Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) put all the rumours, of supporting Kanhaiya Kumar, to rest after it announced Tanveer Hassan as its candidate from Begusarai, making the contest three-dimensional.
In 2014 General Elections, Tanveer Hassan, a lifelong socialist and Lohiaite, gave a tough fight to BJP’s Bhola Singh even in the ‘Modi wave’, but lost the election with a margin of around 60,000 votes. He received 3,69,892 votes as the runner-up while Bhola Singh held the pole position with 4,28,227 votes.
Even if all eyes are on Kanhaiya Kumar and Giriraj Singh in this highly anticipated contest, Tanveer Hassan can prove to be the dark horse, in case the caste equation of Begusarai works in his favour. Tanveer Hassan is relying on the RJD’s Muslim-Yadav vote bank and there is also a possibility of split in the upper caste vote bank, especially Bhumihar votes, between Kanhaiya and Giriraj.
Giriraj Singh is relying on Non-Yadav OBC and the upper-caste vote bank and has also the advantage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face, especially in an election which has become a referendum on Modi.
Singh, who is an MP (Member of Parliament) from Nawada constituency, was miffed with the party decision of fielding from Begusarai. The Union Minister had complained that no other MP’s seat was changed in Bihar and the decision to give him a ticket from Begusarai was taken without consulting him.
As per the seats arrangement between the partners of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Nawada seat has been given to the Janata Dal (United).