PATNA: The upcoming bypoll for Bihar’s Jokihat Assembly constituency, scheduled for May 28, is set to witness a fierce triangular contest and would prove an acid test for the state’s ruling NDA.
With nearly 70 per cent of voters in Jokihat in the backward northern district of Araria being Muslim, the pro-development governance model of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of JD(U) and the famed secular credentials of his arch-rival Lalu Prasad Yadav of RJD are pitted against each other.
The bypoll was necessitated because of the resignation of the sitting JD(U) legislator Sarfaraz Alam, who joined RJD and contested the recent bypoll for Araria Lok Sabha seat and won. The Araria LS seat, of which Jokihat is an Assembly segment, was won by his father and RJD strongman Mohammad Taslimuddin in the 2014 general elections and several times earlier. Taslimuddin’s death in September last had necessitated that bypoll.
While there are nine candidates in the fray, the main contest is going to be between the ruling JD(U)’s Murshid Alam, the main Opposition party RJD’s Shahnawaz Alam and Gousul Alam of Jan Adhikar Party (JAP).
By fielding Shahnawaz Alam, the younger brother of Araria’s sitting RJD MP Sarfaraz Alam, RJD has secured an initial advantage because the influence of Taslimuddin on voters in Jokihat remains very deep. Sarfaraz Alam, who had won the Jokihat seat twice as a JD(U) candidate in 2010 and 2015 Assembly polls, is working hard to ensure his brother’s victory.
Even though several ministers in the state government are campaigning for JD(U) candidate Murshid Alam, sources said his chances could be harmed because of the revolt by former JD(U) legislator Manzar Alam. Despite having defeated Sarfaraz Alam twice earlier, Manzar Alam was denied a party ticket this time. He is contesting as an independent candidate.
Gousul Alam of Jan Adhikar Party (JAP), led by firebrand MP Pappu Yadav, is said to have a significant hold on voters. He has been working among the area’s people for quite some time hoping to contest the polls.
“JD(U) is presenting before the voters in this impoverished area the pro-development governance model and secular credentials of CM Nitish Kumar. But after he joined hands with BJP and after RJD’s impressive victory over BJP in Araria Lok Sabha bypolls, the voters really know better now,” said an RJD leader.
Courtesy: Express News Service