Patna: Firebrand BJP leader and union minister Giriraj Singh was on Monday apparently left sulking after the Nawada Lok Sabha seat, which he represents, went to NDA ally LJP. “Compulsions of seat-sharing may be there. But I wish to underscore that no other union minister from Bihar may have to give up his sitting seat,” the veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader told media persons here.
“This is despite the fact that I have worked so much to nurture my constituency,” Singh added. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had on Sunday announced the list of candidates and their respective seats to be contested by its three constituents– the BJP, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP.
As per the announcement the BJP and the JD(U) will contest 17 seats each and six seats were allotted to the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). Asked whether he had expressed his wish to seek re-election from Nawada to state BJP president Nityanand Rai, Singh said: “I must have done so 200 times”.
“Five years is a long time and I have become attached to Nawada and its people. Rai had assured me that I would get a ticket from wherever I wanted. Why this (denial of ticket) happened is for him to answer,” Singh told reporters here. On reports that he might be asked to contest from Begusarai, the seat which he had wanted to fight in 2014, Singh replied with a hint of bitterness, “I was a party worker, am a party worker and shall always remain a party worker.”
Besides Giriraj Singh, the other union ministers from Bihar are Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Buxar), R K Singh (Ara), Ram Kripal Yadav (Pataliputra) and Radha Mohan Singh (Motihari). All these seats have been retained by the BJP and it is believed that the sitting MPs may be fielded again from their respective seats.
Interestingly, in the last general election Giriraj Singh had initially expressed his wish to contest from Begusarai, which is dominated by the Bhumihar caste to which he belongs. But the seat then went to Bhola Singh, a party-hopper who had been previously associated with the Communist Party of India (CPI), Congress and the Janata Dal.
Giriraj Singh was then given the ticket from Nawada, a less safe seat given its social profile which he won riding the Modi wave. The Nawada seat has gone to LJP this time in exchange for Munger, which has been given to the JD(U) reportedly at the insistence of Nitish Kumar who wanted it for close aide Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh.
Lalan Singh had represented Munger from 2009 to 2014 when he lost it to LJPs Veena Devi, who is the wife of mafia don-turned-politician Suraj Bhan Singh. With Begusarai lying vacant on account of the death of Bhola Singh, speculations are rife that Giriraj Singh may be fielded from there.
However, he is said to be wary of the possibility that former JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar may make his electoral debut on a CPI ticket from the seat. Belonging to the same caste as Giriraj Singh, Kanhaiya is likely to pose a tough challenge as Begusarai has been a stronghold of the CPI and has earned the epithet– ‘Moscow of Bihar’.
Moreover, being a Bhumihar himself, Kanhaiya may cut into votes of the dominant caste besides getting support from a cross-section of other social segments since it is being speculated that the Grand Alliance comprising Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress and other smaller parties may support him.