Muslim voters may prove to be the catalyst in the seven seats that are going for polls in Bihar on Thursday. As per available records the seats of Supaul, Araria, Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnia, Bhagalpur and Banka in Bihar have a sizable presence of the minority community. All the seats are located in the Seemanchal area bordering Bangladesh and Nepal with a total number of over 1.04 crore voters.
The breaking of alliance between the Janata Dal United and Bharatiya Janata Party is also likely to make an impact on the polls as the regional outfit is struggling to stand up on its own given the towering presence of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Nearly destroyed by the Kosi deluge in 2008, the Supaul constituency, which elected the Janata Dal United candidate Vishwa Mohan Kumar in 2009, is set for another election though its flood miseries are far from over. According to a Times of India report: “Candidates are promising speedy implementation of the World Bank-aided reconstruction scheme including houses to the families displaced in the floods which had inundated over 230 villages.”
Supaul became a constituency in 2009 and had Kumar as the first MP. However, with the rejection of ticket this time by the JDU he joined the BJP only to be denied again because of a sting operation controversy. The JDU has fielded Dileshwar Kamait while Kameshwar Chaupal is the BJP candidate. However, there is a possibility that the Muslims votes might actually go to Congress candidate Ranjeet Ranjan defeating the very purpose of JDU’s cutting of ties with the BJP to protect its Muslim voter base.
In Araria, a three-dimensional contest is likely to take place among Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Taslimuddin Amjad, BJP’s Pradeep Kumar Singh and JDU’s Vijay Kumar Mandal. A total of 13 candidates in the fray. Largely minority dominated with a 45 percent population, the Congress is hoping that its ally RJD wrests the seat from the sitting BJP MP Pradeep Kumar Singh.
According to a PTI story that was published on Firstpost, JDU candidate for Kisanganj, Akhtarul Iman withdrew his nomination allowing a direct fight between Congress’ Maulana Asrarul Haque and BJP’s Dilip Jaiswal in the constituency. Kisanganj is one of the key constituents of the state sitting on the eastern tip of Bihar bordering West Bengal. The seat has a huge Muslim population with 72 percent making the community a religious majority. The higher number of Muslims added some comfort to the Congress party as it it likely to negate the Narendra Modi effect. Haque is the sitting MP as well in the seat.
Another minority-dominated seat of Bhagalpur, which is currently represented by BJP MP Syed Shahnawaz Hussain will witness a triangular contest involving JDU’s Abu Kaiser and RJD’s Bullo Mandal. The constituency has 20 percent Muslim population.
Represented by Nikhil Kumar Choudhary of the BJP in the present Lok Sabha, who is also seeking a re-election, the Thursday poll will witness the party fighting against its former ally JDU. The regional party has nominated Ram Prakash Mahto to fight from the seat. The constituency has 30 percent Muslim voters on its electoral rolls.
The seat of Purnia is another seat where a BJP candidate is looking to retain the seat. BJP’s Uday Singh alias Pappu Singh will lock in a triangular fight with Amarnath Tiwari of the Congress and Santosh Kumar of the JDU. This constituency has 20 percent Muslim Voters.
In Banka, RJD’s Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav will tackle the challenge from BJP’s Putul Kumari primarily. At present, Banka is represented by Independent candidate Digvijay Singh. The Assembly constituencies of Banka and Katoria, which fall under the Banka parliamentary seat, are Maoists-affected. As a result of this voting would be held till 4 pm in these segments while it will go on from 7 am to 6 pm in all other seats.