For nearly 100 days, the Left Front, comprising the CPI, CPM and the CPI-ML, waited anxiously to know whether it would be part of the Mahagatbandhan in Bihar or not.
Out of 40 Lok Sabha seats, the CPI staked its claim on two seats – Begusarai and Madhubani (from where CPI MP Chaturanan Mishra was earlier Lok Sabha member and served as Union Agriculture Minister in Deve Gowda-headed United Front Government).
The Left outfit also made it clear to the Mahagatbandhan leaders that Begusarai seat, from where the CPI had proposed the name of Kanhaiya Kumar, the former JNU student leader, as its nominee, was non-negotiable.
Last week, when the Mahagatbandhan list was announced, not one seat was allocated to the CPI or CPM, although one constituency (Ara) was earmarked for the CPI-ML.
Miffed over shabby treatment, the Left walked out of the alliance. Sources say more than the unfair deal, it was RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s insistence of not supporting Kanhaiya, and fielding his own nominee Tanveer Hasan, which spoilt the Mahagatbandhan broth.
“Kanhaiya is an emerging leader who has shown his leadership qualities through his oratory skills. We may have differences with him, but the way he has carved a niche for himself, has made Lalu Prasad jittery. Lalu ji would not like any young leader to emerge in Bihar who could later pose a challenge to his heir apparent Tejashwi,” says JD (U) national general secretary KC Tyagi.
Congress leaders agree with Tyagi and aver that all the constituents in the Mahagatbandhan (other than RJD) were ready to support Kanhaiya from Begusarai, his home constituency. “Three things were in favour of Kanhaiya: First, he is a good orator, connects very well with local people in local dialect and could easily counter BJP’s Giriraj Singh in Bhumihar-dominated constituency. (Both Kanhaiya and Giriraj belong to dominant upper caste: Bhumihar). Secondly, Kanhaiya originally hails from Begusarai where his mother is an Anganwadi worker. Third, Begusarai is considered Bihar’s Leningrad, where the Left has strong presence in certain Assembly segments of this Lok Sabha constituency,” a senior AICC media panelists, aware of the seat-sharing talks, told Deccan Herald.
Off the record, several Grand Alliance leaders, whom DH spoke to, agreed that Tejashwi feels threatened from the promising leader Kanhaiya who could pose a challenge during the 2020 Assembly polls.
The RJD leaders, however, don’t buy this theory. “The Left has marginal presence in Bihar. And so far as Begusarai is concerned, the RJD candidate Tanveer Hasan has been fielded as he was runners-up in 2014 LS poll,” argued a former RJD MP.