Kumar, the former Lok Sabha Speaker, lost the 2014 Lok Sabha election against Paswan, but seems to have a slight edge this time because of the reworked social combination. Paswan, on his part, is banking on the Narendra Modi factor to sail through.
Amarjit Kumar, a Sasaram resident, said: “While Kumar is likely to get overwhelming support of her caste group, Ravidas, she will also get split votes from OBC Kushwaha and upper caste Brahmins.” He said that with Upendra Kushwaha in the Grand Alliance, there were signs of transfer of Kushwaha votes. “Besides, there could be better Muslim-Yadav vote transfer to Kumar this time,” he added.
Kumar has invoked the legacy of her father and former Deputy PM Jagjivan Ram in her bid to wrest the seat from Paswan. While her father represented the constituency eight times, Kumar won it twice.
Paswan has been playing up the Modi factor and banking on the social combination of Scheduled Caste Paswan, upper castes and EBCs. “He has been also hoping that the BSP candidate cuts into some Ravidas votes. CPI-ML presence could help him too. Overall, Paswan has invoked Modi to get support beyond caste lines,” said Manoj Kumar, another Sasaram resident.
A senior Congress leader said they were counting on Kumar as a winner. “Sasaram, Samastipur, Purnia, Katihar and Kishanganj are the seats we hope to win this time,” the leader said. Bihar Congress spokesperson Harkhu Jha told The Sunday Express: “We are taking Sasaram as one of winning seats because it has been a traditional Congress seat. Besides, we have always got Ravidas, Kushwaha and Muslim votes. This time, there would be additional Yadav and EBC votes.”
Paswan, however, maintained that the Modi factor prevailed over anything else.