A ‘Left Over’ Now Left’s Cover:  Kanhaiya Kumar, Dumped By Mahagathbandhan, Is The CPI Candidate For BegusaraiFormer JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and jailed ex-chief minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav. 

Kanhaiya Kumar, the former president of the student’s union of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), will be CPI candidate from Bihar’s Begusarai constituency in the coming Lok Sabha election, The Hindu reported.

Kanhaiya Kumar will enter the fray as the joint candidate of the Left parties from Begusarai. The decision was taken by the Left parties on Saturday, a day after Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led Mahagathbandhan delivered a snub to left parties by leaving them out of the electoral coalition in Bihar.

Late last week, the the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar led by RJD announced its formula for seat sharing for the Lok Sabha elections, bringing together a host of parties including Congress, Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), and CPI-ML.

As part of the grand opposition alliance, Congress was allocated nine seats along with one seat for it for Rajya Sabha and the Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP was allocated five seats. Three seats were each allocated to Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM and Mukesh Sahni’s VIP.

RJD will be effectively contesting in 17 seats as it gave up two seats for Sharad Yadav’s breakaway Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) and one seat for a CPI-ML (Communist Party Of India- Marxist Lenninist) candidate, who will fight on an RJD symbol. Sharad Yadav has promised to merge his party with RJD in the coming days.

RJD’S erstwhile allies, CPI and CPI-M, were booted out of the coalition. Left leaders in Bihar reacted angrily to the snub and slammed the Opposition for excluding them from the seat-sharing formula.

For the past several weeks, it was almost considered a certainty that Kanhaiya Kumar will be fielded as the candidate of the Mahagathbandhan from Bihar’s Begusarai Lok Sabha constituency.

Despite being relegated as a marginal player in the rest of the state, Left parties (CPI and CPM) continued to have a decent presence in Begusarai, and the place was a virtually impregnable leftist citadel even a decade back. The place is often referred to as the 'Leningrad of Bihar' and ‘Little Moscow’.

Begusarai has historically witnessed the struggle between the landless and the landlords, who usually hail from the influential Bhumihar community. The district has a history of violent conflict between Bhumihar-dominated Ranvir Sena and Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (CPIML).

In pockets of Begusarai, Communist party also draws considerable support from Bhumihars. Kanhaiya Kumar himself comes from a Brahmin-Bhumihar family. According to local observers, many land owning Bhumihars have embraced communism to protect their land from being acquired for the Bahruni fertilizer plant.

In the 1995 Assembly election, the Left parties had swept Begusarai region winning five seats.

Despite a steady decline in their influence, the Left parties put up a decent fight in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. The seat was won by BJP candidate Bhola Singh (the first win ever for the party in this seat) by polling 4,28,227 votes. CPI’s Rajendra Prasad Singh finished third by bagging 1,92,639 votes.

Political observers in the state attribute two or three reasons for refusal of Mahagathbandhan to do business with Kanhaiya Kumar.

With BJP shifting firebrand leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh to Begusarai, the RJD strategists believe that Kanhaiya Kumar is unlikely to gain any traction from Bhumihars, with Singh himself in the fray. In their assessment, Mahagathbandhan’s victory prospects hinge on Muslim consolidation.

The RJD is expected to to field Tanvir Hasan, who was runner-up in 2014 by a margin of 60,000 votes. In 2009, Janata Dal United candidate Monazir Hassan won this seat.

RJD insiders also attribute Tejashwi Yadav' s intense dislike for Kanhaiya Kumar over latter’s perceived arrogance as another reason for the alliance not coming through.

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