Bihar assembly polls a litmus test for Kanhaiya Kumar
New Delhi, October 7 (IANS): The two side polls to be held on October 30 will have far-reaching consequences not only for Bihar politics, but even for national politics.
Tarapur and Kusheshwar Sthan are the two assembly seats that go for the bypolls. Tarapur is in Munger district of central Bihar while Kusheshwar Sthan is in Darbhanga district of Mithila region in northern Bihar. Both seats were won by Janata Dal United in the 2020 legislative elections with a slight margin of 7,222 and 7,225 votes respectively. A united opposition with careful strategy can challenge the ruling NDA from here. But friction in the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar is a big sticking point for opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav.
If the opposition manages to defeat the ruling party candidates, it may have ramifications for Bihar politics.
The RJD’s demand to fight the Kusheshwar Sthan assembly seat is also justified to some extent, as the performance of the Congress Party in Bihar in the polls has fallen short of expectations.
The Kishanganj assembly poll is one example. Congress won the Kishanganj Assembly seat in 2015, but in the 2019 ballot, held after incumbent Md Jawed was elected to Parliament, Congress came in third. However, Congress won the seat again in 2020.
Even in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the congressional candidate secured a comfortable lead over the Kishanganj segment of the assembly, but the congressional candidate performed poorly in the 2019 poll. Trusting the performance of the Congress Party in polls across the country, we see that its performance has fallen short.
Kanhaiya Kumar’s role in Bihar’s polls will be a litmus test of his popularity, as in the two assembly seats of Kusheshwar Sthan and Tarapur, the Congress Party and the RJD narrowly lost. It’s a good test for Kanhaiya Kumar to prove his mettle in securing victory in the seats, especially Kusheshwar Sthan.
Kusheshwar Sthan’s Congress candidate Atirek Kumar is the son of Ashok Kumar, the party candidate of the same seat in 2020. In addition, Ashok Kumar is a senior leader of the Bihar unit of Congress.
Kanhaiya Kumar’s performance as an ICC candidate for the Begusarai Lok Sabha headquarters in 2019 was highly unsatisfactory. Out of the seven segments of the Begusarai assembly, Kanhiya was unable to rank first in terms of votes in any of the segments of the assembly. Even in two rally segments of Sahebpur Kamal and Cheria Bariarpur, Kanhaiya came in third place behind RJD candidate Tanweer Hasan.
So far, Kanhaiya Kumar has been quiet about his role as a party activist or party leader in Kusheshwar Sthan.
The Bihar State Unit of the Congress Party is also not very enthusiastic about Kanhaiya Kumar’s enthronement. The BPCC could demand a campaign from Kanhaiya Kumar to test its popularity. In the event of a dismal performance, its credibility will be severely criticized. He can be called NPA (non-performing asset) not only by the media, the opposition parties but also by some of the BPCC leaders who fear that Kanhaiya will be imposed on them as a top leader by the party high command in order to that the various factions of the unit bury their hatchet to corner Kanhaiya. According to media reports, it appears that the party’s high command did not consult the local unit on Kanhaiya’s enthronement.
One theory also postulates that Congress will use Kanhiya Kumar in the states of Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh or in states where the party has had to cash in on the anti-BJP functioning as the party’s star activist. In states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Tripura where the party had lost any chance of renewal, Kanhaiya has no role as leader or activist of the Congress Party, according to political analysts.