Bihar ‘mahagathbandhan’ ally Vikassheel Insaan Party’s (VIP’s) head Mukesh Sahni, who is making his electoral debut from the Khagaria Lok Sabha seat, would be looking to bank on Rashtriya Janta Dal’s (RJD’s) Yadav and Muslim votes against sitting Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MP Choudhary Mehboob Ali Qaisar. Sahni, whose party is contesting on three seats in Bihar, enjoys the support of EBC Sahni/Mallah (who also write Kevat and Nishad) and Nonia votes (2.5 lakh).
His opponent Mehboob Ali Qaisar is the only NDA Muslim candidate in the state. Qaisar, who got the LJP ticket in last moment, is banking on split Muslim votes (about one lakh) besides NDA’s voter base of upper castes (2.25 lakh), OBC baniyas (1.25 lakh), split votes of non-Yadav OBCs and scheduled caste Paswans (1.5 lakh).
“Qaisar must not take it lightly only because he can split Muslim votes. It all depends on transfer of Yadav votes to Sahni. If there is passive voting by Yadavs, it could be difficult. Qaisar and Sahni look evenly matched,” a Khagaria resident said. However, Sahni could face the disadvantage of being politically untested, he added.
Sahni, who initially wanted to contest from Darbhanga, had eventually settled for Khagaria seat. Sahni, who started off a pressure group talking of rights of EBC Sahni (about eight per cent of state population) had a base in Muzaffarpur where he held several rallies. “This election will prove if he has potential to emerge as a leader of EBC Sahnis or would just remain a leader of a particular region,” another resident said.
Sahni targets NDA’s “false promises of employment generation” in his public speeches, saying that they have done little for EBCs.
On the other hand, Qaisar talks about the development plank of NDA. Qaisar, who also plays up local factor, belongs to Simri Bakhtiyarpur area of Khagaria.
LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, who belongs to Khagaria, said: “Sahni cannot be a match to our candidate. RJD cadre may not fully back him. Besides, Qaisar has been an established politician.”
Khagaria has Assembly segments of Khagaria, Hasanpur, Alauli, Parbatta, Simri Bakhtiyarpur and Beldaur.