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Bihar bypolls: RJD sees chance to upset JD(U) in 2 seats, NDA makes it a prestige issue to retain them

Though the NDA enjoys a simple majority of 126 in the 243-member Bihar Assembly, RJD has been banking on a social combination to win the seats, which could take the combined Opposition tally from 110 to 112.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: October 30, 2021 8:47:33 am
Police personnel and polling officers carry Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) on the eve of the bye-elections to the Tarapur assembly constituency, in Munger district, Friday, October 29, 2021. (PTI Photo)

As Tarapur (Munger) and Kusheshwar Sthan (Darbhangs) Assembly segments go to polls on Saturday, the RJD sees its best chance to wrest both seats from the JD(U) while NDA has been making all efforts to retain them. Though the NDA enjoys a simple majority of 126 in the 243-member Bihar Assembly, RJD has been banking on a social combination to win the seats, which could take the combined Opposition tally from 110 to 112 — only 10 short of majority.

The RJD-led Opposition has sniffed out a chance of toppling the Nitish Kumar government as AIMIM, with its five MLAs, may support the RJD if Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and Vikasshil Insaan Party, which have four legislators each, switch political allegiance.

Tarapur and Kusheshwar Sthan battles have boiled down to social calculations. With the RJD fielding an OBC Vaishya candidate in Tarapur and scheduled caste Mushahar in Kushesgwar Sthan, JD(U) looks to be struggling on both seats with social combination weighing slightly in favour of the RJD.

With the Congress also fielding candidates for both seats, the fight has become more intense as the margin of victory for JD(U) candidates in both seats were just over 7,000 votes in the 2020 polls.

The bypolls were necessitated after the death of JD(U) legislators Shashi Bhushan Hazari (Kusheshwar Sthan) and Mewalal Choudhary (Tarapur).

Though it is Tarapur which is drawing more attention, the Kusheshwar Sthan battle is as exciting. Kusheshwar Sthan was traditionally a Congress seat till the JD(U) upset Congress veteran Ashok Ram.

RJD has given a ticket to Ganesh Bharti, a scheduled caste Mushahar, which has a population of over 35,000 in the constituency. JD(U) candidate Aman Hazari, son of late Shashi Bhushan Hazari, is a scheduled caste Paswan, which has a population of about 8,000. OBC Yadav is about 28,000, while there are about 2,000 Muslims. There are about 30,000 upper castes and EBC has a 32,000-strong population. RJD’s Muslim, Yadav and Mushahar combination look to give the RJD a slight lead. Congress candidate Atirek Ram, son of Ashok Ram, can splinter votes of JD(U) and RJD.

The Tarapur battle looks even more closer than Kusheshwar Sthan with RJD looking to split NDA’s core Vaishya votes because its candidate, Arun Kumar Sah, is a Vaishya from Asarganj. JD(U), that won the seat thrice consecutively, has again put its bet on Kushwaha candidate Rajiv Kumar Singh.

Congress candidate Rajesh Mishra, an upper caste Brahmin, can damage the prospects of the JD(U) candidate even though majority of upper caste votes look intact in NDA’s favour. JD(U) looks to compensate for the split in Vaishya votes with consolidation of Kushwaha, upper caste and majority of EBC votes.

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