An element of curiosity has been introduced in the Bankipur assembly segment where a strongly placed young BJP MLAs attempt at a hat-trick has been challenged by, a still younger, Congress candidate with a formidable pedigree.
The candidature of 37-year-old Luv Sinha, whose father Shatrughan Sinha had lost Patna Sahib in the Lok Sabha polls last year when he fought on a Congress ticket, came as a surprise to residents of the Bihar capital, a major part of which is covered under the constituency named after a locality in the city.
The father had won the Lok Sabha seat on the trot in 2009 and 2014, when he contested on a BJP ticket, but he burnt his bridges with the party after repeated jibes at the Modi-Shah duo which he mockingly called “one-man show and two-man army”.
Last year, the “Bihari babu” who took pride in having registered the biggest margin of victory in the state in 2014 when all credit was going to the “Modi wave”, lost by an even greater number of votes (2,84,657) to former cabinet colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad who was contesting an election for the first time.
Not much has been known so far about his children’s political aptitude, though it is common knowledge that unlike twin brother Kush, Luv did evince interest in acting but failed to make it big like “Shotgun” or, to some extent, younger sister Sonakshi. Besides being born to a famous actor whose crowd-pulling abilities in his home town remain undiminished, Luv Sinha also has caste factor on his side in Bankipur where the winner and the runner-up have been, invariably, Kayasthas.
However, defeating the incumbent Nitin Nabin remains a tall order as the city has, in reaction to the Mandal wave and the lawlessness that prevailed during the rule of Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi, turned into a saffron bastion.
This explains why the 40 years old MLA, who made his debut from the now abolished Patna West seat in 2006 in a by- election necessitated by his father Nabin Kishore Sinhas death, has always been winning by astounding margins.
Even in 2015, when the Congress had fielded another Kayastha candidate Kumar Ashish who enjoyed the backing of Lalu Prasads RJD as well as Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Bankipur remained a cakewalk for Nitin Nabin even as the BJP struggled to hold its own in much of the state, failing to win even a quarter of seats in the 243-strong assembly. Nitish Kumar is back in the NDA this time which the BJP sees as a bonus. Moreover, Nabin’s own standing has since grown.
He headed the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha till recently and has now been appointed as the party’s in charge for Sikkim. The opposition Grand Alliance, of which the Congress is the second-largest partner after RJD, however, hopes of cashing in on the anti-incumbency factor which has become palpable with the Chief Minister having been in power for about a decade and a half.
The Congress also hopes to make inroads among disgruntled BJP cadre who do not have much of a space in the state capital to vent their frustrations, with even the rebellious LJP chief Chirag Paswan shying away from fielding candidates against the saffron party candidates in any of the four assembly segments which cover the entire city. This was evident when Sushma Sahu, a former state president of BJP Mahila Morcha who recently quit the party and had sought to contest as an Independent candidate, turned up at public meetings where she canvassed for Luv Sinha, calling him ”chhota bhai” (younger brother).
Sahu has been alleging that her nomination papers were rejected at the behest of the ruling coalition and accusing the BJP of, “insulting the Vaishya community” by ignoring and humiliating her. How much ice this cuts with the voters will be known on November 03, when Bankipur, which has a 3.91 lakh strong electorate, goes to polls in the second phase of elections.
Altogether 22 candidates are in the fray here and, besides the main contenders, one being talked about is Pushpam Priya Chaudhary, who calls herself "
Chief Ministerial candidate” of her newly-floated outfit Plurals Party. However, the politically conscious residents of the city look with bemusement at the self-styled political reformer, who claims to be an alumnus of the on School of Economics and happens to be daughter of a JD(U) leader from north Bihar.
The NDA leaders are describing Luv Sinha as a ”parachute candidate”. But, his father, Shatrughan Sinha says he is ”Bihar putra” (son of Bihar) and has been working for the people since he (Sinha himself) contested Lok Sabha elections from native Patna for the first time in 2009.
Confident of the BJP’s victory on the seat, some saffron party leaders brag that “even if US president Donald Trump comes to contest against the BJP from Patna, he will be defeated.”
Priti Sinha of Sri Krishna Nagar says though not much development work has been done in the area, we would love to have a BJP-JD(U) government for the sake of control of crime.
Sapalta Singh of Khajpura locality says “we are firmly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To make the countr strong we need to have him in power everywhere”.