The JD(U)’s 38 candidates, the complete list released today, are more or less predictable in terms of community representation; what stands out is its 10 new entrants, some of whom have only just joined the party. The list has four Muslims, five Yadavs, six Mahadalits and four Kushwahas, and seeks to spring a surprise on the BJP with nine upper-caste candidates.
Amrapali Group chairman and managing director Anil Kumar Sharma will contest from Jehanabad and filmmaker Prakash Jha from West Champaran. Three of the four Muslim candidates, Akhtarul Imam (Kishanganj), Abu Qaisar (Bhagalpur) and Ghulam Gous (Madhubani), crossed over to the JD(U) from RJD days ago. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has accused BJP of depending on “exported candidates”, has snatched at least four candidates from its former alliance partner: Avnish Kumar Singh (East Champaran), Manoj Singh (Siwan) and Santosh Kushwaha (Purnea).
Anil Sharma was preferred over Ghosi MLA Rahul Sharma, whose father Jagdish Sharma lost his position as MP after his conviction in the fodder scam. Prakash Jha, who contested as an LJP nominee and got over 1.25 lakh votes, will take on sitting BJP MP Sanjay Jaiswal. RJD veteran Raghunath Jha will contest West Champaran.
Kishanganj will pit Akhtarul against sitting Congress MP Asrarul Haque and the BJP’s Dilip Jaiswal. Abu Qaisar, called a “financier”, will challenge BJP’s Bhagalpur MP Syed Shahnawaz Hussain. In the RJD, Qaisar lost his Bhagalpur claim to Bulo Mandal, and crossed over. Madhubani will see a battle among Gous, RJD’s Abdul Bari Siddiqui and sitting BJP MP Hukumdev Narayan Yadav.
Patna Saheb will have Gopal Prasad Sinha challenging the BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha. As expected, Pataliputra will see a triangular contest among Misa Bharti, the JD(U)’s Ranjan Prasad Yadav and the BJP’s Ram Kripal Yadav.
The JD(U) has fielded Salim Pervez to challenge Rabri Devi at Saran, where the BJP has once again fielded Rajiv Pratap Rudy. JD(U) strongman Manoranjan Singh, also known as Dhumal Singh, will challenge the RJD’s Prabhunath Singh in Maharajganj. And JD(U) sitting MP Mina Singh will take on former union secretary and BJP candidate R K Singh in Ara.
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LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan will again face his 2009 conqueror, former CM Ramsunder Das, in Hajipur. In Madhepura, Sharad Yadav will face off with the RJD’s Pappu Yadav and the BJP’s Vijay Kushwaha.
In Darbhanga, close Nitish aide Sanjay Jha will fight his first big battle, against the BJP’s sitting MP Kirti Azad and the RJD’s M A A Fatmi. Another Nitish aide, Munger sitting MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh or Lalan Singh, is again the party’s candidate. Sharad Yadav’s candidate Dinesh Chandra Yadav will contest Khagaria against the LJP’s Choudhary Mehboob Ali Qaisar and RJD’s Krishna Kumari Yadav, whose sister Poonam Yadav is a JD(U) MLA.