Kanhaiya Kumar’s candidature from CPI has been the limelight of the Bihar elections. The JNU graduate, who was arrested for sedition due to his involvement in the alleged anti-Indian slogans, has been fielded by the left party from his hometown, Begusarai. Garnering the support of the left, more particularly, the youth; Kumar perceives himself to be invisible. However, his insecurity has come to light as CPI has requested RJD to retire their candidate from the constituency.
Begusarai is going to face a triangular contest in the Lok Sabha polling between CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar, RJD candidate Tanveer Hassan and BJP candidate Giriraj Singh. The elections will take place on 29th April 2019 in the fourth phase of the polling.
CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy, at a press conference in Patna, made tall claims that the RJD candidate Tanveer Hassan is likely to finish third in the polling. Emphasizing on Kanhaiya Kumar’s “excellent” support from all segments of the society, he urged the Mahagathbandhan to ask Hassan to retire in Kumar’s favour, since the last date of withdrawal of nomination has passed. Reddy stated, “I would, therefore, urge Tejashwi Yadav to consider our appeal that Hassan retire from the contest. He can do this much to help Kanhaiya get a decisive victory since the last date of withdrawal of nominations has elapsed”. He further stated that since CPI was only contesting from a few seats and supporting the Mahagathbandhan in the rest, the same support should be extended to the left in Begusarai. “We appeal to Tejashwi to consider our appeal for just one seat.”
Kanhaiya Kumar had initially wanted his political debut to be from his hometown of Begusarai from a CPI ticket after an alliance with RJD. This dream was crushed when RJD released the candidate list and CPI was not featured on the list at all. At the instance of Tejashwi Yadav, Lalu Yadav came to this conclusion, as Kanhaiya Kumar belonged to Bhumihar caste and hence supporting him may anger the party’s own cadre, which is dominated by Yadavs and Muslims. Thereafter the communist parties decided to contest the elections together. Reddy stated, “The CPI is committed to formation of a non-NDA government at the centre which the Left parties could influence in terms of policy formulation. We are truly saddened that we could not have a truck with the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar.”
Kanhaiya Kumar has focused his campaign solely on the youth. He has been organizing road shows, whose only impressive characteristic is the existence of 500 motorcycle-borne youngsters. Moreover, he is having JNU students to do his campaigning for him. There are many questions raised on the effectiveness of the campaign, as only one demography, that is, the youth of Begusarai are being focused on.
Although Kanhaiya Kumar is having a successful campaign if seen from the youth’s point of view, the ground realities in the constituency are forcing him to think otherwise. CPI originally does not have a traditional vote base in the constituency and is largely reliant on minority votes. However, RJD nominee Tanveer Hassan, being a Muslim candidate is going to be a hindrance for CPI. Tanveer Hassan is a popular figure in Begusarai and is contesting from the constituency for the 2nd time. During the 2014 elections, he was the runner up after BJP with 34% of the vote percentage. CPI candidate Rajendra Prasad Singh had performed poorly with a mere 18% of the total votes. The reason for this was that minority votes were divided between the 2 parties, with Tanveer Hassan emerging as the more popular figure. The left envisages a similar vote division this time around, with Kanhaiya Kumar emerging as the 2nd runner up in the state and hence have appealed RJD to retire Hassan, so as to consolidate the minority votes.
Moreover, the BJP candidate, Giriraj Singh belongs to the same Bhumihar caste as of Kanhaiya Kumar. The fact that Giriraj Singh has emerged as a popular figure in the community and is garnering more support isn’t hidden to anyone; especially becoming visible when RJD stated that the Bhumihar caste voters have of late veered towards the BJP.
Therefore, Kanhaiya Kumar now has a situation on his hands wherein his own caste will not vote for him, due to the presence of Giriraj Singh; and the traditional voter base of CPI, the minorities, won’t vote for him, because of Tanveer Hassan. Neither does he have his own caste’s support, nor the party’s; and the youth can only take him so far. As such, the only hope for Kanhaiya in Begusarai is if Hassan retires from the polling, thereby the consolidated minority votes in the constituency will go in favour of CPI. Deriving from Rahul Gandhi’s methods to get a definite majority using vote bank politics, the left is essentially looking to turn Begusarai into Kanhaiya’s own Wayanad.