Jokihat bypoll: Litmus test for Nitish & Tejashwi

Jokihat bypoll: Litmus test for Nitish & Tejashwi

Tejashwi Yadav with Nitish Kumar. PTI/FILE

When the voters of Bihar's Jokihat Assembly constituency will exercise their franchise on Monday, it will be the last and crucial litmus test for both Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Ever since Nitish severed ties with the RJD and the Congress, abandoning the Grand alliance and joining hands with the NDA in July 2017, the JD (U) has not won any of the by-elections held in Bihar.

The bypoll at Jokihat in Araria district assumes significance as the JD (U) has been winning this seat consistently since 2005.

But its MLA, Sarfaraz Alam, who won from this constituency in 2015, resigned from the JD (U), joined the RJD and contested Araria Lok Sabha by-elections earlier this year.

Sarafaraz, son of the late Mohammad Taslimuddin, who was earlier the RJD MP from Araria, won from Araria defeating the BJP's Pradeep Singh.

Since Sarfaraz quit as JD (U) MLA and became the RJD parliamentarian, the Jokihat seat fell vacant, thereby necessitating the bypoll in this Muslim-dominated constituency.

Keeping in mind that Taslimuddin wielded enormous clout in Araria, Kishanganj and Katihar, the three Muslim-dominated districts in north-eastern Bihar, the RJD has fielded Taslimuddin’s younger son Shahnawaz Alam as the party candidate.

The JD (U), on the other hand, has fielded local leader Murshid Alam, whose criminal antecedents have been drawing more attention in the bypoll, perceived a direct contest between Nitish and his former deputy Tejashwi.

"Murshid, in his affidavit, has submitted that seven criminal cases of serious nature were pending against him in various courts of Araria. The affidavit mentions rape, murder and loot cases registered against him at police stations of Palasi, Simraha and Jokihat in the district. This speaks volume of Nitish's much-hyped talks of clean politics," said Tejashwi Yadav, before campaigning for the bypoll ended on Saturday.