Sunday, December 23, 2007

LJP sees red in battle for Bikramganj seat


Paswan plays his card

Patna, Dec. 23: An Union minister at the Centre’s UPA government, Ram Vilas Paswan, has decided to support the CPI-ML candidate on the Bikramganj Lok Sabha seat, going to the by-polls on December 29.

With his announcement that his Lok Janashakti Party would work for the Naxalite outfit’s nominee, Arun Kumar Singh, Paswan has once again demonstrated his motive to maintain “distance” with Lalu Prasad’s RJD and the BJP.

Paswan, the UPA insiders suggest, has time and again shown his tenacity to wither the Congress leadership’s pressure of “working in tandem with Lalu Prasad to maintain UPA’s unity in Bihar”, in which Nitish Kumar-led NDA has usurped power.

While the BJP, which is a part of Nitish Kumar-led NDA government, has been strongly supporting the JD(U) nominee, Meena Singh, other UPA components, except the LJP, are supporting RJD’s Awadhes Kumar on the seat. The battle at Bikramganj has virtually boiled down to a straight contest between the JD(U) and the RJD.

Campaigning has gathered momentum with the Bihar chief minister joining in today. Nitish Kumar is supposed to carry out electioneering in parts of the constituency everyday till it ends in the following Wednesday.

And Lalu Prasad has been pulling no stops to ensure the victory of his party nominee. The RJD boss has been campaigning at a feverish pace in central Bihar’s dusty constituency ever since December 18.

Though the seat will elect its MP for a year or so, it a war zone for Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar — rather than the candidates. The ruling JD(U), which won the seat in 2004 general polls, is aware that a loss may provide enough fodder to Lalu Prasad to see a “resurrection” of sorts in the Bihar politics ahead of the Lok Sabha polls due in 2009.

But, the NDA in Bihar has a tremendous victory record in the by-polls that took place after Nitish Kumar became its chief minister. The NDA won all the four seats (two Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats), which went for the by-poll with Nitish in the saddle.

Thus the political observes prefer to put their bet in the JD(U) nominee’s favour on the seat, which had fallen vacant in the wake of its MP Ajit Singh’s premature death. Ajit’s widow, Meena Singh is contesting for the seat this year.

But Lalu Prasad is primarily banking on the Yadavs who are sizeable in number on this seat. He has fielded Koiri candidate in Ashok Kushwaha to rope in the Kushwahas who, too, are numerically preponderant and who have been the JD(U)’s support base so far

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