Begusarai's Unpredictable Voters Keep Kanhaiya Kumar, Giriraj Singh on the Edge

File photos of CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar and BJP's Giriraj Singh.

File photos of CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar and BJP's Giriraj Singh.

Even as some voters expressed their desire to see a leader like Kanhaiya Kumar enter Parliament, many preferred the BJP as the political party to lead the nation.

Pankaj Kumar
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As the much-hyped electioneering in Begusarai came to an end and the fate of candidates got sealed in electronic voting machine (EVM)s, party workers claimed their leaders’ victory and pushed their opponents to second and third positions.

The seat saw a triangular contest among the BJP, grand alliance and CPI.

There are seven assembly constituencies that fall under the Begusarai parliamentary constituency and queues at polling booths were long with an overwhelming turnout of women voters.

The seat registered a voting percentage of 61.27% that is 2% higher than the last election.

Post-delimitation in 2008, three-fourth of Balia Lok Sabha constituency came under Begusarai, following which Communists started eyeing the seat (Balia had the rare distinction of sending a Left representative to the Lok Sabha for long).

The seven assembly segments under Begusarai are Sadar, Matihani, Teghra, Bachwara, Cheria Bariarpur, Bakhri and Sahebpur Kamal. Of these, Cheria Bariarpur has the highest number of Bhumihar and Kushwaha votes, followed by Muslims and Yadavs.

The sizeable presence of Manjhis, Sahnis, Paswans and extremely backward caste voters make the election interesting as their tilt will decide the fate of candidate.

The unpredictable electorate has been giving nightmares to candidates as they have not been able to gauge the former's mindset.

Suraj Kushwaha, a farmer, said, “I have voted for the candidate who will be there by my side whenever I need him. I have voted on the performance of the government and not on account of anything else — be it caste or any other reason.”

Ramji Kushwaha, a local, while praising CPI’s Kanhaiya Kumar’s campaign, said the former JNU student union president should be given a chance. “At least one person should be there inside Parliament who could match the oratory skills of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said.

In Begusarai, which has a long history of being a Communist bastion, Kanhaiya tried to resurrect the old glory and had as his campaigners the likes of Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azami, Prakash Raj and Swara Bhaskara. His JNU mate and activist Shehla Rashid also canvassed for him.

Though in Cheria Bariyarpur, Matihani and Barauni, the BJP’s firebrand leader Giriraj Singh is likely to rule the roost because of a favourable social demography, several voices have revealed a different picture.

Anil Chaudhary, a local shop owner in Matihani, said, “Why our votes should be taken for granted. Results will prove what we have taken care of candidates while exercising our franchise.”

Bachwara is another unique assembly segment which has been represented by Yadav community since 1972, irrespective the candidate’s political affiliation except in 1985.

Along with the likelihood of the Yadav votes getting divided between the RJD and CPI, many people claimed to have voted for the BJP candidate. The reason being BJP’s state chief Nityanand Rai contesting from the adjacent constituency of Ujiyarpur.

Ram Badan Yadav, a resident of Tankha village, said, “We voted for the BJP with the view that country needs a strong leader at the Centre.”

Muslims constitute 17% of the total vote-share in Begusarai with the Teghra Assembly segment having the highest number of minority community members, as per the 2011 census. The saffron camp’s hope here is the presence of Bhumihar and Kurmi voters.

In Sahebpur Kamal constituency, Kanhaiya is said to have made inroads into the Muslim vote-bank of the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD. Imtiyaz Alam, a resident, said, “Kanhaiya is our hero and many of us want to see him inside Parliament.”

Bifurcation in the support base of the established political parties in Begusarai have made electioneering fascinating.

BJP’s Giriraj Singh said, “People have voted in large numbers to support the national cause as well as good governance of Modi and Nitish Kumar”.

Even as Tanveer Hasan, the grand alliance candidate, expressed hope of victory in the triangular contest, former CPI parliamentarian Shatrughan Prasad Singh said the RJD was not a factor in Begusarai.

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