Bihar’s Begusarai constituency will steal the eyes of the country as the battle is between students’ leader Kanhaiya Kumar and BJP leader Giriraj Singh Kishore.
As RJD-Congress led Mahagathbandhan did not give any seat for Left Democratic parties, CPI announced Kanhaiya Kumar as its candidate. RJD has also fielded a candidate, Tanveer Hassan. But it is believed that the Begusarai will turn into a direct fight between Kanhaiya and Giriraj Singh.
Caste is a big factor in Bihar. And in Begusarai, Bhumihar caste is pivotal. The BJP has fielded controversial leader Giriraj Singh, who is from Bhumihar caste, from Begusarai as close to 35% of the electorate is from the Bhumihar caste. Kanhaiya too comes from the same caste and the last Begusarai MP, the late Bhola Singh, was also from the same caste. Experts have noted, this factor plays an important role in Begusarai.
BJP leader and Union minister Giriraj who was earlier shifted from Nawada as the seat went to Lok Janashakti Party under the seat sharing formula.
Singh was left sulking after the Nawada Lok Sabha seat, which he represents, went to NDA ally LJP. "Compulsions of seat sharing may be there. But I wish to underscore that no other union minister from Bihar may have to give up his sitting seat," says Giriraj Singh.
Ever since the Left announced Kanhaiya as its candidate, #Kanhaiya4Begusarai has been one of the top trends on Twitter. Contemporaries like Jignesh Mewani have rallied behind him who have said that his candidature is more than a mere election affair. When asked about the social media frenzy surrounding his candidature, Kanhaiya says the medium does not play a huge role when it comes to his constituency.
However, Kanhaiya believes that Indian electoral politics is no longer about the candidate. “Iin Begusarai, whoever wants the BJP to lose will vote for me and whoever wants the BJP to win will vote for Giriraj Singh. There will be no triangular fight,” he said.
Left with a little over 40 panchayats to cover, Kanhaiya says he is strong on the ground—booth level committees have been made, large gatherings have been addressed. But one of the biggest takeaways from the months he has spent in his home turf is the ‘Muslim issue” as his own people call it.
In February 2016, a young student leader from the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University was arrested on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy. Now the student leader has turned mainstream politician. The CPI, despite fighting a losing battle in the district, tried to convince the RJD-Congress alliance that it would win the Begusarai seat. Begusarai has been a stronghold of the CPI and has earned the epithet-'Moscow of Bihar'.