oppn parties Will Begusarai Elect Kanhaiya Kumar?

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Will Begusarai Elect Kanhaiya Kumar?

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2019-04-10 13:37:37

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Begusarai in Bihar is known as the Leningrad of India for the support it has always provided to the Leftists. But the sleepy town has now become famous because the dying Left movement in India has suddenly come to life with the candidature of its latest star, Kanhaiya Kumar of JNU fame, from the Begusarai Lok Sabha constituency.

That Kumar is a star is not in doubt. That he is supported by the Left-liberal intelligentsia is also not in doubt. He had a lineup of many famous activists and film people accompanying him when he went to submit his nomination papers. Other high profile celebrities are slated to campaign for him in the coming days. He is crowdfunding his campaign as he claims that neither he nor his party has the cash to carry out a visible campaign. In short, he is the most high profile, different and trendy contestant in Begusarai. But will he win?

Kanhaiya Kumar, in fact, lost much before his candidature was announced by the Communist Party of India (CPI). If the mahagathbandhan had left the seat for the CPI and if there was a one-to-one fight between Kanhaiya and BJP’s Giriraj Singh, maybe he could have won. But with Tanveer Hassan of RJD also in the fray, opposition votes are going to be divided and Singh will have it easy.

The figures are against Kanhaiya Kumar. In 2014, Dr Bhola Singh of the BJP won the seat by a margin of over 58000 votes, getting nearly 40% vote share. Tanveer Hassan came second with 34.31% vote share. Rajendra Prasad Singh, the CPI candidate, got just 17.87% votes and was placed third. Even if we discount the absence of a Modi wave this time and add the star value of Kanhaiya Kumar, it is too much to expect that he will retain all the CPI votes, take away a major portion from RJD votes and some from the BJP to emerge victorious.

Further, he has to contend with the money power of the BJP and the muscle power of the RJD and BJP both. Despite his national celebrity status, his popularity in Begusarai, outside of core Left supporters, is in doubt. His stardom is also a double-edged sword for many common folks (as they do not understand the importance of allowing dissent in a democracy) who view him as a traitor for allowing slogans of “Pakistan zindabad” to be raised under his watch in the JNU. With so much stacked against him, Kanhaiya might run a different and high profile campaign in the constituency but is not expected to win. Maybe he will push Tanveer Hassan to the third place but that will mean nothing for the young man yearning to enter parliament to make an impact.