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Bihar’s Key Constituencies in Election Fray

September 30, 2015

It is interesting that none of the leaders who ruled Bihar in the last twenty five years, with the exception of a stop-gap chief minister turned-Janata Dal (United) rebel Jitan Ram Manjhi, are contesting the elections this time. Outgoing chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar, who is the Grand Alliance’s CM candidate  is a member of state legislative council decided against contesting the assembly seat.

Bihar Constituencies Gear Up for Election Battle.

What makes the situation more piquant is that even Sushil Kumar Modi, who was the state’s deputy chief minister of the state till 2013 during the Nitish-led National Democratic Alliance government, and who like Nitish is an MLC, is not contesting the state elections. Incidentally, Sushil, too, is a key contender for the CM’s post in case the Bharatiya Janata Party forms the government in the state.

Even Nitish’s two predecessors, Lalu Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi, who ruled Bihar from 1990 till 2005 too are not in the fray – Lalu being disqualified after being convicted in the fodder scam last year, and Rabri deciding against contesting this time. In the last assembly elections as well as in the general elections to the Lok Sabha in 2014, she had suffered a humiliating defeat!


Rabri’s withdrawal from the race does not diminish the value of her constituency Raghopur, which will now decide the fate of her (and Lalu’s) younger son Tejaswi Yadav, who is contesting his maiden elections this time. He is pitted against a formidable giant killer and sitting MLA Satish Rai, who had trounced Rabri in the same constituency in the 2010 assembly polls. Rai was then a JD(U) candidate but after the pact between the Lalu’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and JD(U) this election, the JD(U) denied him the ticket in favour of Tejaswi that has led to Rai joining the BJP. As a BJP candidate, he offers a stiff challenge to Tejaswi. Such is the importance of the seat that Lalu chose to kick off his election campaign from Raghopur, giving a clarion call to the Yadavs, OBCs and minorities to “rally behind” Tejaswi! As for Rai, will he follow the steps of former RJD leader Ram Kripal Yadav, is to be seen. Yadav had joined the BJP after like Rai, he was denied a ticket in the last Lok Sabha elections in favour of Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti, who eventually lost the Patliputra seat in Patna.  The former subsequently became a union minister.


Lalu’s elder son, Tej Pratap Yadav, 28, too, is making his electoral debut from Mahua, in Vaishali district of North Bihar that is considered a stronghold of Lalu. In fact Tej Pratap had many months ago declared that he wanted to contest from Mahua, which has significant Yadav population.

Like Raghopur, the RJD had won from Mahua in 2010. However, as in Raghopur, the attempt to accommodate Tej Pratap has caused hearburns in Mahua, too and the sitting MLA from here, Ravindra Rai has joined Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha and is nominated by that party.


For the sitting CM Nitish as well as his one-time deputy Sushil, (both CM hopefuls), contesting the assembly elections does not really matter as they are MLCs and not in the fray. Yet, there are other key contenders such as Dr. Prem Kumar – an influential Extremely Backward Class leader of the BJP, who are in the fray and have not concealed their aspirations to lead Bihar. He is seeking re-election from his home turf Gaya for the seventh consecutive time since 1990. Last time, he had got 55,618 votes and defeated Jalal Uddin Ansari by a margin of 28,417 votes. This time though, he is pitted against the Mahagathbandhan candidate Priya Ranjan alias Dimple of the Congress. The large gathering of his supporters at the time of Dr. Kumar’s nomination, and the presence of union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad as well as Rajiv Pratap Singh Rudy – both important BJP leaders from Bihar and Union Ministers – does signify the importance that the BJP has attached to Gaya. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose the constituency as one of its earliest venues to address his election rally in the state.

Patna Sahib

The leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Bihar assembly, Nand Kishore Yadav, is seeking reelection from Patna Sahib Constituency this time. What is interesting is that it falls in the parliamentary constituency of Shatrughan Sinha, who had openly vented his grudge for being sidelined within his party till he was included as a star campaigner for the state.

Prior to shifting to Patna Sahib, Yadav had represented Patna East five times in a row since 1995. In the last elections, he had defeated his nearest rival Parvez Ahmed of the Congress by a comfortable margin of 65337 votes, polling 91419 votes. This time he is pitted against RJD’s Santosh Mehta, a party hopper who had crossed over from the JD(U) to the RJD recently.


Dinara is one constituency that has invited considerable attention as the  Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader  Rajendra Singh has been fielded from here as a BJP candidate. A resident of Rohtas district of Bihar, 49-year old Singh is a full time pracharak of the RSS and is currently the Sangathan  Mantri (Organising General Secretary) of  BJP’s Jharkhand unit.  He is also considered as one of the chief architects of BJP’s victory in Jharkhand last year. Even now, Singh was a part of a core team of four members that the BJP President Amit Shah had formed in July this year to oversee Bihar Assembly elections.

Already his candidature has sparked much speculation in the political circles over whether he will be Manoharlal Khattar (leader who became the CM of Haryana defying all predictions) of Bihar in case of a BJP victory in the state. Last time, the BJP had not contested from Dinara that had gone to the quota of its then alliance partner JD(U) under seat-sharing arrangement.  The RSS pracharak is pitted against sitting MLA Jay Kumar Singh of JD(U) who had won this seat in the 2010 Assembly elections.

Makhdumpur (SC) and Imamganj (SC)

The reserved constituencies Makhdumpur and Imamganj have emerged significant because of the candidature of HAM leader and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi from these two seats.

While Manjhi, a sitting MLA from Makhdumpur (SC) is pitted against RJD’s Subedar Singh in the constituency. At Imamganj (SC), the Speaker of outgoing Assembly Uday Narayan Chaudhary has been retained by the JD(U) to take on Manjhi.

The outcome in these seats would determine the course of caste-based politics of Bihar. Manjhi seeks to be the undisputed leader of the Mahadalits in the state and his victory would consolidate his leadership over the community that comprises a sizeable 15 per cent votes in the state.


Former petroleum secretary RS Pandey, who joined the BJP in 2013, is contesting from this constituency in West Champaran district. He is pitted against JD(U)’s Bhishma Sahni. However, last time it was JD(U)’s Prabhat Ranjan Singh who had won the Bagaha seat by defeating his nearest rival, Ram Prasad Yadav of the RJD, by a margin of 49055 votes.


The AICC Secretary Shakeel Ahmed Khan is contesting from Kadwa constituency in the Seemanchal region. Earlier the seat was allocated to the Nationalist Congress Party by the Mahagathbandhan, But the Congress got it after the NCP and the Samajwadi Party stepped out of the grand alliance in the very last minute.

In the 2010 elections, the BJP’s Bhola Ray had emerged winner from Kadwa, defeating his nearest rival Himraj Singh of the NCP by a margin of 18367 votes. This time the BJP has fielded Chandra Bhushan Thakur as its candidate in the constituency.


Former Bihar assembly speaker and Congress Legislature Party leader Sadanand Singh has remained seeking re-election from Kahalgaon. He is pitted against Neeraj Mandal of the Lok Janshakti Party. In the last elections, Singh had defeated his nearest rival Kahkashan Parween of JD(U), by a margin of 8935 votes.  Kahalgaon constituency came into existence in 2010 and was earlier known as Colgong. Singh was first elected from here in 1969 and lost only twice in 1990 and 1995.

The battle of sons, relatives and cronies in Bihar

Sons and relatives of prominent leaders have invited considerable interest in Bihar polls as at times they have upset their own party bigwigs (consider the case of Lalu’s sons). Much is already being written about Nitish denying ticket to sitting JD(U) MLA from Rajapakar constituency, Sanjay Kumar, to favour Lalu.

Incidentally, Sanjay is the son of former chief minister Ram Sundar Das but he lost out to Lalu’s  close aide Shiv Chandra Ram, who also happens to be chief of the youth wing of the RJD. In fact, it is Lalu’s cronies who have benefitted the most out of the Lalu-Nitish alliance while the significant losers are from the JD(U) and this does indicate the vulnerability of Nitish this elections. Consider that Usha Sinha, the JD(U) MLA from Hilsa in Nitish’s hometown Nalanda, was dropped this time to make way for Lalu’s former private secretary Shakti Singh Yadav, who is now the RJD candidate from Nitish’s own stronghold! Another Nitish’s MLA Madan Sahni was given the boot to accommodate yet an ex-private secretary of Lalu, Bhola Yadav (who, incidentally, last year was made an MLC). Bhola has replaced Sahni as the Mahagathbandhan candidate in Bahadupur in Darbhanga district from where he is contesting on the RJD ticket.

Kutumba, Kalyanpur and Alauli

Kutumba loosely means family and it sounds ironical. Consider how LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan’s son in law so desperately wanted to contest elections from Kutumba constituency – a reserved seat in Aurangabad district but was denied ticket as the NDA allotted the seat to HAM supremo Manjhi’s son Santosh Kumar Suman. While Suman is pitted against the Congress party’s Rajesh Kumar at Kutumba, Sadhu has revolted against his father-in-law Paswan. He heads the Dalit Sena, and has said his wing of the party will campaign actively against Paswan. Last time it was JD(U)’s Lalan Ram who had won the Kutumba seat against his nearest RJD rival Suresh Paswan by a margin of 13910 votes.

Incidentally, the war within the Paswan family refuses to cease as reports suggest that neither Paswan’s son Chirag nor Sadhu were in favour to give party tickets to Prince Raj, son of Ram Vilas’s brother Ramchandra Paswan (MP), from Kalyanpur. Moreover, Chirag had reportedly even opposed the decision to let his uncle (Ram Vilas’s another brother) Pashupati Kumar Paras contest from two seats, Alauli and Rajapakar. What is significant though is that the JD(U) has denied ticket to its sitting MLA from Alauli, Ram Chandra Sada, who in 2010 had defeated Paras — the seven-term legislator. Instead, the Mahagathbandhan has fielded Lalu’s hand-picked man Chandan Kumar from this reserved constituency in Khagaria as the RJD candidate.

Bodh Gaya

Significantly, even Manjhi, too, faces a rift in the family as his son-in-law Devendra Manjhi, too, filed nomination as an Independent from Bodh Gaya (reserved SC seat) after the NDA opted for BJP’s sitting MLA Shyamdeo Paswan from the seat.


As for the BJP, it faces rebellion in Bhagalpur as a big section of the party cadre has reportedly rallied behind the rebel group led by Mahanagar chairman Vijay Shah as an Independent candidate, rejecting the party’s candidate, and Buxar MP Aswini Kumar Chaubey’s son, Arjit Shahswat Chaubey.

Aswini Chaubey wields considerable clout in the constituency that he had represented four times in a row before he had vacated it after winning the Lok Sabha election. In the subsequent assembly bypoll that was necessitated following his elevation, the BJP had lost the seat to Ajeet Sharma from Congress.


Nitish Mishra, yet another son of a famous father – former chief minister Dr. Jagannath Mishra, is seeking re-election on HAM’s ticket from Jhanjhapur and is pitted against JD (U)’s Gulab Yadav.

Incidentally, in 2010, Nitish had won the seat on JD (U)’s ticket. Mishra was a minister in Bihar from 2005 to February 2015 when he sided with Jitan Ram Manjhi after the split in the JD(U) and joined HAM.  He has consecutively been a member of the 13th, 14th and 15th Bihar Legislative Assembly from Jhanjharpur seat – a Mishra family stronghold in Madhubani. His father Jagannath Mishra had also won the same seat five times (1972 to 1990).

Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of