Begusarai: The turn of events following open rebellion in the CPI against the candidature of party nominee Rajendra Prasad Singh, state party secretary and former MLA, here indicates that RJD nominee Tanveer Hassan and BJP candidate Bhola Singh may be heading for a straight fight in Begusarai Lok Sabha seat, once called as ‘Leningrad of Bihar’. The CPI is contesting Begusarai and Banka seats in this election in alliance with JD (U).
Political watchers feel the recent damage-control exercise by top CPI leaders may not help the party candidate much and he may have to remain content with third position, a situation that would further dent the party’s claims about Begusarai district being its stronghold. Though there is no official clarification on the status of 16 of the 18 block secretaries who resigned in protest against Rajendra Prasad Singh being made the party nominee, the party leadership, in its bid to calm the frayed tempers, has refused to accept the resignation of former MP Shatrughan Prasad Singh from the party.
Singh had resigned from the party’s primary membership after party workers, in a show of open defiance, announced to work for the defeat of official nominee. They were demanding that Shatrughan be made the party nominee, as recommended by the local party unit. As the ‘revolt’ got more pronounced, Shatrughan resigned to salvage his position and avoid the charge of triggering a rebellion. The party leadership tried to cajole Shatrughan to campaign for the party nominee. All this has, however, failed to enthuse the local party workers who find it hard to motivate themselves.
For the CPI, there is a lot at stake in this seat since a bad show would only confirm the growing belief that the party is getting increasingly weaker, to the extent of becoming politically insignificant in the district. The CPI had remained a formidable force in this district before 2000. Even in the 2009 LS polls, Shatrughan had secured second position as CPI nominee, losing to Monazir Hassan of JD (U) by a margin of 40,000 votes.
Before the 2009 LS polls, Balia used to be another parliamentary constituency in the district, with five of the seven assembly constituencies of the district falling under it. The CPI nominees won the Balia seat in 1980, 1989, 1991 and 1996. However, after the emergence of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, the party started losing its support base in the district.