bookie from North India said that the Satta bazaar bets high on Giriraj Singh and Smriti Irani, but this time the highest money was placed on Kanhaiya Kumar and Rahul Gandhi. Surprisingly the betting that came in for Kanhaiya Kumar and Rahul Gandhi is perhaps the biggest stake in entire political gambling so far. He also said that BJP returning to power but markdowns ‘Modi wave’. There is heavy gambling on Kanhaiya Kumar and BJP’s Smriti Irani, we don’t know who is going to win or lose but yes we can analyse the situation and come to some conclusion.
Kanhaiya Kumar’s hometown is just 10 km away from the Begusarai Lok Sabha constituency. Let us look at the caste combination of the seat. Bhumihar (4.7 Lakh), other upper castes (1.5–2 Lakh), Kushwaha/Kurmi (2 Lakh), Muslim (2.5 Lakh), Yadav (1.5 Lakh). Also a number of other OBCs and Dalits have a significant population. RJD-Congress grand alliance has fielded Tanweer Hassan from the seat. Last time Tanweer Hassan had lost to Bhola Singh of BJP by a margin of 58,000 votes and CPI was a distant third but with 1.91 lakh votes.
Balia seat (which no longer exists) was a bastion of Communists till 1990s and today’s Begusarai seat covers most of Balia Lok Sabha seat. So CPI is naturally strong. The area was known as “Moscow of Bihar”. But RJD and BJP along with JD(U) have destroyed the Left Fortress in last one two decades in the Begusarai and adjoining districts. Kanhaiya Kumar will certainly galvanise Left organisation and he will probably corner most of Left leaning votes. This would mean that he would cut RJD’s vote. There is an assembly segment called Sahibpur Kamal seat, which has a good minority population, and it seems to me that CPI may make inroads into RJD’s minority votes. CPI, BJP and RJD would also contest for OBCs and Dalit votes due to their social alliances. Bhumihars have numerical superiority in that seat over other castes. Both Giriraj Singh and Kanhaiya Kumar come from the same community. Bhumihars have been a traditional supporter of BJP and they may still vote in mass for BJP but you never know if they opt for change and vote for Kanhaiya. There is very strong possibility that the section of Bhumihars may vote for Kanhaiya Kumar.
The biggest Bhumihar leader of Bihar is undoubtedly Giriraj Singh and it would be interesting to see whether Bhumihars would like to defeat their biggest leader. Bihar Cabinet minister Vijay Kumar Sinha (also a Bhumihar) is the guardian minister for the district as BJP is trying hard to keep its grip on Bhumihars. Also Giriraj Singh may again become central minister and is perhaps second tallest leader of Bhumihar in India after Manoj Sinha of UP. Also Giriraj Singh is known as a firebrand Hindu leader and his pro-Modi and pro-Hindu image may help him. And a rally by PM Modi in or around Begusarai has changed the situation dramatically.
On the other hand, Kanhaiya Kumar has also emerged as one of the main Modi opponents at the national level. However, he also has an image of anti-national and this would go for BJP’s advantage. BJP’s WhatsApp university has reasonably damaged Kanhaiya Kumar’s image, but still his approach to people and folks who campaigned for him were very precise and to the point in asking vote for him.
Giriraj Singh’s mother is from Begusarai. It’s an irony that Giriraj wanted to contest from Begusarai in 2014 but was sent to Navada. Giriraj Singh may win and there may be close vote share between Tanweer Hassan and Kanhaiya Kumar for second place. Anything can happen in a tight election. Possibility of Giriraj Singh winning the election from Begusarai seat in Bihar is stronger. The people in Begusarai are mostly dependent on agriculture and are not so financially well and so is Kanhaiya Kumar, so a sense of oneness can prevail. Kanhaiya Kumar is the only young candidate so people may vote him for a change and also he is popular. Begusarai has always been a stronghold of Congress and CPI. BJP’s prospect may not be good in Rai Bareli despite a few Congress leaders joining BJP in last few years. But Amethi may be a different case. Rahul Gandhi may still have edge over Smriti Irani in Amethi Lok Sabha seats. Once a national leader losses from a seat in another state then he/she looses interest on that seat. But Union Minister Smriti Irani has been regularly visiting Amethi since her 2014 loss. She has improved BJP’s prospect in the seat and few Congress leaders have switched sides. Centre and State Government have delivered some mega projects to Amethi. Rahul’s entry in Karnataka politics galvanises Congress workers there but it also reflects the reality that Amethi may not be a very safe seat. Even if media starts talking about close fight in Amethi then it would be moral victory for BJP. Any signal that Rahul is struggling in Amethi is enough to demoralise Congress and energise BJP.
In the end, the perception matters much more than the actual result. Except for hard-core Modi haters, the rest of India seems to be optimistically hoping that BJP will return to power under Modi’s leadership.
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