The CPI on Wednesday announced its support to rebel Congress candidate Shakeel Ahmed in Madhubani Lok Sabha constituency, a move that may queer the pitch for the Mahagathbandhan which seeks to wrest the seat from BJP. The CPI state council made the announcement in a release in Patna, stating it is committed to defeating the BJP and its allies and form “a government that could provide a secular, progressive and democratic alternative”.
The Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) has fielded Badrinath Purve, a former RJD leader who is the candidate of the fledgling Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), while BJP MP Hukum Dev Narayan Yadavs son Ashok Yadav seeks to retain the seat for NDA.
The CPI’s move could be seen as a snub to Lalu Prasad’s RJD, the largest constituent of the Mahagathbandhan which had turned down an appeal by CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy to ask its candidate from Begusarai to “retire” from the contest in favour of its nominee Kanhaiya Kumar.
Although the party’s strength has diminished in the last couple of decades, Madhubani used to be a CPI stronghold in the 1960s and 1970s when Bhogendra Jha had represented the seat also known by the name Jaynagar for a while four times. Jha was succeeded by party colleague Chaturanan Mishra who also served as the Union agriculture minister in the United Front government headed by HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujaral.
Shakeel Ahmed, a former Union minister who has represented Madhubani in the Lok Sabha, had filed his nomination papers in two sets – as a Congress candidate and as an Independent. He withdrew the former after the party declined his request for allotting the party symbol.
Besides the CPI, Ahmed is likely to receive help from Mohd Ali Ashraf Fatmi an RJD veteran who quit the party recently to protest the “rough and rude” manner in which he was suspended by Tejashwi Yadav.
He also withdrew his nomination papers submitted as an Independent citing Ahmed’s presence in the fray and stating that he did not wish to help the BJP by a split in votes.
The CPI also pledged its support to Aam Aadmi Party’s Raghunath Kumar in Sitamarhi and the party’s state media in- charge Bablu Prakash.
Kanhaiya who has time to spare now as polling is over in his constituency on Monday is likely to take part in the campaign for the AAP nominee, the CPI said in the release.
Currently held by RLSP’s Ram Kumar Sharma who has revolted against party chief Upendra Kushwaha upon denial of ticket this time, Sitamarhi is witnessing virtually a straight contest between JD(U)’s Sunil Kumar Pintu and veteran socialist leader Arjun Rai who has been fielded by the RJD.
The CPI also announced its support for Mohd Idris who is in the fray from Muzaffarpur as the candidate of the Socialist Unity Centre of India, a moribund Left outfit.
The seat is witnessing a contest between sitting BJP MP Ajay Nishad and Rajbhushan Chaudhary Nishad of the VIP floated six months ago by former Bollywood set designer Mukesh Sahni with a view to providing a political platform to the Mallah community.