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The Hindu
The Hindu
Amarnath Tewary

Lok Sabha elections | JD(U) releases list of 16 candidates with caste composition

The Janata Dal (United) released a list of 16 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on March 24, providing a caste break-up, in a reflection of the impact that last year’s caste census has had on the State’s politics. Two sitting MPs have been dropped, while two turncoats have been given tickets, with preference given to backward class leaders.

Six of the 16 candidates are from Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and five from Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs), which together comprise 63% of Bihar’s population; three candidates are from upper castes, which make up only 15% of the population; and one each from mahadalit and Muslim communities. Two of the candidates are women.

Seeking a repeat of 2019 sweep

In the seat-sharing deal within the State’s ruling National Democratic Alliance coalition, BJP was allotted 17 seats, whle the JD(U) got 16, and the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) got five. The Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and the Rashtriya Lok Morcha were each allocated one seat of the State’s 40 Lok Sabha seats. HAM(S) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi and RLM president Upendra Kushwaha are likely to contest from the Gaya and Karakat parliamentary seats respectively. The BJP is also likely to announce its list of Bihar candidates on Sunday.

In the 2019 election, the NDA had swept the polls in Bihar, winning 53% of votes and 39 of the State’s 40 seats. The BJP and JD(U) had contested 17 seats each, leaving six seats to the then-undivided Lok Janshakti Party. The JD(U) had lost the lone seat of Kishanganj to the Congress.

Two sitting MPs dropped

This time round, the JD(U) has decided to drop two sitting MPs: Kavita Singh from Siwan and Sunil Kumar Pintu from Sitamarhi. Two turncoats — Lovely Anand, who recently joined the JD(U) from the Rashtriya Janata Dal; and Vijay Lakshmi Kushwaha, the wife of Ramesh Singh Kushwaha, the former RLM MLA from Ziradei, who has returned to the JD(U) — have been given tickets from the Sheohar and Siwan Lok Sabha seats respectively.

In 2019, BJP leader Rama Devi had won the Sheohar Lok Sabha seat, but as the constituency has been allocated to the JD(U) this time, the party has fielded Ms. Anand, wife of Anand Mohan Singh, an upper caste strongman from the Kosi area.

New and old faces

In the Sitamarhi seat, JD(U) leader and chairman of the Bihar legislative council Devesh Chandra Thakur has been fielded in place of the sitting MP Sunil Kumar Pintu. Mr. Pintu is currently a JD(U) member, but was earlier in the BJP, and his proximity to his earlier affiliations has increased of late.

From Kishanganj, the JD(U) has fielded Mujahid Alam, who was earlier the MLA from Kochadhaman, but had been defeated in the 2020 Assembly poll by All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MLA Izhar Asfi.

Apart from these four, the remaining 12 are sitting JD(U) MPs, who are being fielded again. JD(U) national vice-president Basistha Narayan Singh announced the names at the party headquarters in Patna: Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh (Munger), Girdhari Yadav (Banka), Dileshwar Kamat (Supaul), Dinesh Chandra Yadav (Madhepura), Chandeshwar Chandravanshi (Jehanabad), Santosh Kushwaha (Purnia), Dulal Chand Goswami (Katihar), Alok Suman (Gopalganj), Kaushalendra Kumar (Nalanda), Ajay Mandal (Bhagalpur), Ramprit Mandal (Jhanjharpur), Sunil Mahto (Valmiki Nagar).

Congress, RJD talks

Meanwhile, in the Opposition mahagathbandhan camp, Rashtriya Janata Dal leaders Lalu Prasad Yadav and his younger son Tejashwi Yadav are scheduled to reach Delhi by Sunday evening for a final round of seat-sharing talks with their coalition partner, the Congress. RJD sources told The Hindu that the RJD was willing to spare six seats, while the Congress was demanding at least nine seats, the number it had contested in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.

The RJD is also said to be unhappy about Jan Adhikar Party chief Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav’s recent induction into the Congress, and his demand, in a social media post, that he would not leave the Purnia seat “at any cost”. Bima Bharti, the JD(U) MLA from the Rupauli Assembly constituency and a former Minister, joined the RJD on March 23, and the buzz is that the RJD is likely to field Ms. Bharti from the Purnia seat.

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