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THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 11 MARCH, 2019

Political Debut of Kanhaiya Kumar Still Blocked in Negotiations Over Begusarai

#TCVotes - “We will not jeopardise the Opposition grand alliance in Bihar”


PATNA/NEW DELHI: The Rashtriya Janata Dal is still unsure about relinquishing the Begusarai Lok Sabha seat for former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is the Communist Party of India’s candidate. Ironically, he is seen even by RJD local Bihar leaders as a “sure shot” for winning the seat, but such is the hardboiled nature of Indian politics that officially “negotiations are still on.”

The CPI on its part has decided that the fiery young man will be their candidate from Begusarai. He is drawing huge crowds across Bihar in his meetings. As CPI leader Amarjeet Kaur told The Citizen, “We have decided to field Kanhaiya from Begusarai, he will win hands down - we are hoping the RJD sees reason and gives us this seat.”

The Begusarai Lok Sabha seat has been vacant since the BJP's Bhola Singh, elected from there in 2014, died last October. The RJD has claimed the seat as its candidate performed far better than the CPI that came third in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

In Bihar the larger opposition coalition is still not firmed up, with talks on between the RJD and the smaller parties. The Congress party and the RJD are together in these polls as is Rajendra Kushwaha with his Rashtriya Lok Samta Party. He was earlier with the BJP-JD(U) combine. Other parties in the mahagathbandhan include Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal, the Nationalist Congress Party, and the Hindustani Awam Morcha led by Jitan Ram Manjhi (who also was earlier with the JDU-BJP).

Significantly, the CPI has taken a top level decision to remain with the ‘mahagathbandhan’ regardless of seats. Sources said that in case the RJD does not accommodate Kanhaiya Kumar from Begusarai, “we will not fight as we do not want any possibility--through division of votes---where he might not win. He will remain then our campaigner across the country and of course in Bihar.” It is for the RJD to decide now and we hope they will, the sources said, adding that the party has taken a decision not to “jeopardise the mahagathbandhan in Bihar”.

The Left parties are facing some rough weather in these negotiations with both the RJD and the Congress reluctant to relinquish seats. The CPI(M) has asked for one Lok Sabha seat but might agree to none, with the promise of adjustment in the Assembly elections. The CPI sent a list of four Lok Sabha constituencies but can whittle this down provided the RJD accommodates the young leader.

However, neither Left party is in a mood to break the coalition that they believe is now “necessary to defeat the BJP, and that remains our first priority.”

The CPI-ML has asked for five Lok Sabha seats and is not prepared to bring the number down to the three that the RJD might agree to. The CPI leaders are brokering the deal, in that “we are trying to persuade both sides to climb down and ensure that there is no threat to the mahagathbandhan.” All expect the process to be hastened now that the Lok Sabha elections have been announced.

Earlier the RJD had declared its support for Kanhaiya Kumar, maintaining it would definitely support him from Bihar. However, this assurance has weakened with local pressure from the party, in support of Tanveer Hasan who lost to the JD-U in 2014 by just 58,000 votes.

Kanhaiya Kumar is from the Bihat panchayat under the Barauni block of Begusarai district and the CPI has decided that he will contest from here, “or nowhere.” He is a star campaigner in his own right and “can wait if it comes to that,” the sources said.

Kanhaiya Kumar is recognised by the senior politicians as an excellent orator with the ability to translate complex political thought into local dialect. The week should clear the picture. The CPI has not announced his name in its first list of candidates yet.

 

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