AFTER KERALA and West Bengal, the largest contingent of Left MLAs in any state Assembly would now be in Bihar. The three Left parties — CPI(ML), CPM and CPI — have either won or are ahead in 16 seats. Together, they had contested 29 seats as part of the RJD-led opposition alliance. While the CPI(ML) is likely to end up with 12 seats, the CPM has won two, and the CPI has won two seats.
In the 2015 Assembly election, the CPI(ML) had won three seats while the CPI and the CPM drew a blank.
The Left, which was once influential in Bihar, has retained its pockets of influence, but these parties, especially the CPI(ML) and the CPI, could not translate their support into seats in any significant way largely because they have refrained from being part of the major alliances in the last three decades.
The difference this time was that with the Left parties joining the RJD-led alliance, the votes of the allies acted as a top-up, thus clinching wins for the Left. In Bhojpur district, the CPI(ML) has won Agiaon and Tarari seats and in Shahabad, it has emerged victorious in Karakat and Dumraon. In Magadh region, it won in Paliganj and Phulwari, and in Jehanabad, it won Arwal and Ghoshi. It lost Arrah seat in Bhojpur by a narrow margin of 121 votes. In Siwan, the CPI(ML) won Darauli and Ziradei but lost Daraundha. It lost the Bhorey seat by a narrow margin of 1,026 votes. The CPI(ML) has sought a recount of votes in Bhorey, Arrah and Daraundha, alleging violations of counting norms. The CPM has won Bibhutipur and Manjhi.
Among those who won on the CPI(ML) ticket include Sandeep Saurav, a former general secretary of the party’s student wing, the All India Students Association or AISA. Saurav is also a former general secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union.
The CPI has won Bakhri and Teghra – both in Begusarai district, once known as “mini Moscow” or “Leningrad”, with the CPI winning from Begusarai North for the first time in 1957 (its first win in North India).
The gains made by the Left, especially the CPI(ML), are in Bhojpur and Magadh, regions that have been the epicentre of caste clashes and violence against Dalits and the extremely backward classes in the past.
Bathani Tola, where 21 persons belonging to the Dalit community were killed in 1996, allegedly by the Ranvir Sena, a private army of upper-caste Bhumihar and Rajput landlords, is part of the Tarari seat. Laxmanpur-Bathe, where 58 Dalits were killed in 1997, is part of Arwal.
Senior CPI(ML) leader Kavita Krishnan said Bhojpur and Magadh had seen powerful struggles against feudal oppression.
“The issues were of land, wages and dignity. It would be a misnomer to call their struggles a caste clash. They were an assertion of land, wages, dignity….,” she said. The party has won two seats in Siwan, which was once a stronghold of Mohammad Shahabuddin.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines