Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Bihar: Cliffhanger in Karakat, where a Bhojpuri star has upset traditional equations

'I am sure people in Karakat remember my concern for its development during the five years I represented the seat,' said Kushwaha who then headed the now-defunct Rashtriya Lok Samata Party.
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 09:16 IST
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 09:16 IST

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Karakat (Bihar): In news since Bhojpuri superstar Pawan Singh threw his hat in the ring, Karakat Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar is witnessing a cliffhanger of a contest.

Banking on his star appeal, Singh, whose decision to contest as an Independent has led to expulsion from the BJP, is locked in a multi-cornered contest that promises a nail-biting finish.

Established in the delimitation of 2008, comprising three assembly segments each of Rohtas and Aurangabad districts, Karakat has, so far, always voted for the BJP-led NDA, which is backing former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha this time.

As if the presence of Singh was not enough, the pitch has been queered further for NDA and INDIA with the entry in the fray of Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM, which has fielded Priyanka Chaudhary, a local zila parishad member, in whose favour the Hyderabad MP recently campaigned.

Kushwaha had won the seat on his debut in 2014 and the feat earned him a berth in the Union Council of Ministers.

By the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he was out of the NDA and ended up losing the seat to Mahabali Singh of JD(U), from whom he had wrested the constituency five years earlier.

"I am sure people in Karakat remember my concern for its development during the five years I represented the seat," said Kushwaha who then headed the now-defunct Rashtriya Lok Samata Party.

"In my capacity as Minister of State for HRD, I helped many children from Karakat get admission to central schools. I was always ready to help people from all castes and communities," claimed Kushwaha who now heads Rashtriya Lok Morcha.

Pawan Singh, who drew the biggest crowds among all candidates here while filing nomination papers, compares himself to "Abhimanyu" but hopes that, unlike the character from Mahabharata, he will emerge victorious from the labyrinth.

"I have a manifesto for Karakat, in which I share, among other things, my vision for promoting film-making and tourism, for which there is ample scope in this area full of hills, forests and waterfalls," said Singh.

Hailing from the adjoining district of Bhojpur, the actor-cum-singer turned politician strikes all the correct notes, as he lists among his priorities the revival of moribund industrial units in Dalmianagar township which old residents of Rohtas feel nostalgic about.

However, the NDA seems to have realised well enough that the candidate it supports is no heavyweight and Singh, an upper caste Rajput, could make a dent into what has been a BJP support base.

No wonder, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have canvassed in the constituency even though it is not being contested by their party.

Both the leaders made it a point to recount the horrors of Naxal violence and allege that a victory for the CPI(ML) Liberation candidate could lead to a resurgence of bloody battles between ultra-Left guerillas and private militias of land owners.

Raja Ram Kushwaha banks on his own party's cadre, a force to reckon with in much of central Bihar, besides solid backing from its formidable senior ally, the RJD.

In the 2020 state assembly polls, the Mahagathbandhan had swept Karakat, with RJD bagging five assembly seats and CPI(ML) notching up the remaining one.

In the run-up to the June 1 polls, the alliance is busy, working at the ground level, to prevent a split in minority votes, a possibility of which looms in the wake of Owaisi's campaign for Chaudhary.

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Published 28 May 2024, 09:16 IST

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