PATNA: With Bihar’s RJD-led Opposition grand alliance has decided to field former JNU students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar in Begusarai Lok Sabha constituency, the ruling BJP is likely to field firebrand leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh against him there to match his oratorical skills.
BJP sources said the party has decided not to nominate sitting Begusarai MP Bhola Singh, 79, as its candidate in Begusarai due to his advanced age and the challenge coming from 31-year-old Kanhaiya Kumar. “Consensus is building swiftly in the party to field Giriraj Singh in Begusarai, and he is more than willing to accept the challenge,” said a senior BJP leader.
Giriraj Singh, currently the minister of state (independent charge) for micro, small and medium enterprises, is a first-time MP from Bihar’s Nawada constituency. BJP leaders believe his frequent vocal support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party’s “Hindutva viewpoints” have earned him an image that can easily blunt the appeal among the youth that Kanhaiya Kumar has.
Kanhaiya Kumar, the former JNU Students’ Union president who hails from Begusarai, is going to be the Communist Party of India (CPI) candidate in the constituency, where the Left parties have a considerable support base. Begusarai is likely to be the only Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar where CPI, which is with the RJD-led grand alliance, will contest.
RJD sources said it was party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav who had personally asked CPI leaders during informal talks last month to field Kanhaiya Kumar in Begusarai. Kanhaiya, who is already popular in the constituency, had recently conducted a ‘samvad yatra’ in the district keeping in mind his future candidature.
BJP leaders reacted sharply to reports about Kanhaiya contesting the LS polls from Begusarai. “Kanhaiya has been the worst and most infamous students’ union leader in the history of JNU. Everyone knows about his antinational statements and stance. He should first apologise to the motherland before contesting an election,” said BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand, who also went to JNU.
In February 2016, Kanhaiya was arrested on sedition charges following a rally commemorating the anniversary of the execution of a Kashmiri separatist. He was granted bail the next month.