Musical chairs in Muzaffarpur: how rebels could have a huge impact
- Four sitting JD(U) MLAs and an RJD MLA have defected to the BJP and its allies since last August
- The NDA is relying on them to succeed in the Muzaffarpur district
- JD(U) had won seven of the 11 assembly seats in the district in 2010
- It has now given eight seats to the RJD to save face for the grand alliance
More in the story
- How some rebels from the BJP\'s allies could spoil the party for the NDA
- The RJD\'s formula for wresting control of Muzaffarpur
Changing allegiances isn't new to the politics of Muzaffarpur. It used to be the political karmabhoomi of socialist leader George Fernandes, who represented the seat in Parliament five times. But after his alleged 'betrayal' by his protege, Nitish Kumar, few people remember Fernandes in Muzaffarpur.
But what goes around comes around.
In 2010, Muzaffarpur was the stronghold of Nitish's Janata Dal (United), with the party winning 7 of the 11 assembly seats in the district. Today, the party is in the reckoning on only three seats.
The reason? Four of its MLAs are now in the NDA's fold.
It is these turncoats that the BJP-led alliance is banking on in Muzaffarpur. Cut to size, the JD(U) has been forced to rely on the Rashtriya Janata Dal in the district, allocating the lion's share of eight seats to Lalu Prasad's party.
As a result of these changing allegiances, both alliances are facing their fair share of rebels. These are mostly party loyalists, miffed at defectors being given tickets.
As it is, the Bihar assembly election is proving to be tough to predict. But even within that, Muzaffarpur stands out as a particularly confusing battleground.
Who will grab the seats in this game of musical chairs in Muzaffarpur?
NDA relying on turncoats
On as many as five seats, the NDA is fielding rebels from the JD(U) and the RJD.
- Minapur: Sitting JD(U) MLA Dinesh Kushwaha defected to the BJP in August. The party has now fielded one of his relatives, Ajay Kushwaha, from the seat.
- Sahebganj: BJP has fielded sitting JD(U) MLA Raju Kumar Singh
- Kanti: Sitting JD(U) MLA, Ajit Kumar, is contesting on a ticket from Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular)
- Sakra: JD(U) MLA Dinesh Chanchal defected to the BJP in August. However, the BJP hasn't fielded him from the seat.
- Baruraj: Sitting RJD MLA Brij Kishor Singh joined the BJP in August. However, the BJP has fielded Arun Kumar Singh here.
RJD's Yadav power
With the JD(U) taking a backseat, it is the RJD that is calling the shots for the grand alliance in Muzaffarpur. The party has decided to play the Yadav card to the hilt.
It has fielded Yadav candidates on six of the eight seats allocated to it. These are:
- Gaighat: Maheshwar Prasad Yadav. He has won the seat four times in the past, but lost out to BJP's Veena Devi in 2010.
- Minapur: Rajeev Kumar alias Munna Yadav
- Baruraj: Nand Kumar Rai
- Paroo: Shankar Prasad
- Sahebganj: Ram Vichar Rai, who has won the seat three times in the past. But he lost to the JD(U)'s Raju Kumar Singh in 2010. Singh is now with the BJP.
- Aurai: Surendra Kumar
In addition, the RJD has fielded a Muslim, Mohammad Parvez Alam, from Kanti, indicating that it is relying on its traditional Muslim-Yadav arithmetic in Muzaffarpur.
The JD(U), meanwhile, has renominated two of its sitting MLAs: Ramai Ram (Bochahan) and Manoj Kushwaha (Kurhani).
The curious case of Paswan's son-in-law
No discussion on changing allegiances in Indian politics can be complete without Ram Vilas Paswan. Paswan has been part of two splits within the Janata Parivar, and has aligned with both the Congress and the BJP in the past. But this time, Paswan found himself on the receiving end.
His son-in-law, Anil Kumar Sadhu, rebelled against the LJP last month, after being denied a ticket. He made a scathing attack on Paswan and his son Chirag, on live television, with tears rolling down his cheeks.
He formed the Dalit Sena and threatened to put up candidates against the NDA nominees across the state.
The RJD is flying the grand alliance flag on 8/11 seats, while the NDA is banking on JD(U) rebels
However, Paswan and Sadhu patched up soon, and the latter was given a ticket to contest from Bochahan reserved constituency in Muzaffarpur district. He is up against JD(U) veteran Ramai Ram.
But the story doesn't end there. The original LJP candidate from Bochahan, Baby Kumari, slammed Paswan for removing her to favour his son-in-law.
Rebellion in the ranks
- The BJP is facing internal challenges in Kurhani, Aurai, Sahebganj and Baruraj constituencies.
- RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha has voiced his opposition to the BJP nominee in Minapur.
- In addition, the HAM(S) nominee in Kanti is facing trouble from both the BJP and the RLSP.
- The RJD nominee is said to be facing problems from a section of the JD(U) in Aurai.