Kanhaiya Kumar’s entry as the CPI candidate against Union minister Giriraj Singh of the BJP has paved the way for a riveting contest in Bihar’s Begusarai constituency.
Long known as the ‘Leningrad of Bihar’ due to the Left’s strong influence, Begusarai has all but lost those moorings with RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav’s rise in the post-Mandal era, alongside the BJP mobilising the dominant Bhumihars, among other elite castes, and the decline of the Congress over the past two decades. Yet the Left has never been written off here, though it won the seat only once, in 1967. In the district’s other Lok Sabha constituency—Ballia—the CPI won four of the five general elections between 1980 and 1996. Now, Kanhaiya (pic below) has his task cut out: to wrest Begusarai from the BJP and infuse a fresh lease of life in Bihar’s Left movement.