Shatrughan Sinha is contesting from Patna Sahib for the third time in a row. This occasion he is pitted against his old friend and a former party colleague.
Now the question is – will Shatrughan Sinha aka Bihari Babu be third time lucky? This is the big issue people of Patna Sahib are grappling with, as he battles it out with his old friend from BJP – Ravi Shankar Prasad – to keep the seat for Congress this time.
Sinha, who had won from Patna Sahib as a BJP candidate in consecutive elections, switched over to the Congress, after his parent party – BJP – denied him ticket this time and named Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in his place.
Though denial of ticket to Sinha by BJP seemed to be in the offing for a long time due to his continued attack on the party leadership, he stood firm on contesting from Patna Sahib.
Congress, which had last won the undivided seat of Patna in 1984 post Indira Gandhi’s assassination, has again fallen back on the Bollywood star to taste the success under the changed circumstances.
In the last two elections in 2009 and 2014, Congress had fielded Hindi film actor Shekhar Suman and Bhojpuri film star Kunal Singh against Sinha, but they could not prevail over him.
However, Sinha’s road to success does not seem to be that easy this time. After creation of Patna Sahib as a separate constituency out of old Patna, the constituency has turned into a BJP bastion.
BJP has strategically put up Prasad as its candidate in keeping with caste equations in the mind. Kayasthas constitute a sizable chunk of voters in the constituency.
Of the six assembly segments – Digha, Bankipore, Kumhrar, Patna Sahib, Fatuha and Bakhtiyarpur, four are currently held by the BJP, while the rest by RJD.
Although Prasad is contesting Lok Sabha election for the first time, as he always chose the Upper House route to Parliament, he would have an advantage of a well-organised network of BJP workers to take on Sinha.
On the other hand, Sinha hardly has a good army of poll workers. There is an apparent lack of coordination between Sinha’s team and Congress cadres.
Prasad is also banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma and significant population of trading community, which is traditionally BJP supporter.
“Prasad will have an edge if he manages to wean away the Kayastha community. He has been visiting door to door for the past one month to consolidate BJP’s vote, while Sinha could not even formally launch his campaigning,” said BJP MLA Nitin Navin.
But Congress leaders say, Sinha will sail through if gets support of his loyalists, for the voters belonging to Yadav, Muslim and Kushwaha community will remain firmly behind the Congress nominee as part of the grand alliance.
Meanwhile, Shatrughan Sinha has been telling voters that “My 1st choice, my 2nd choice and my last choice is only Patna. Because, Patna is my biggest strength and weakness…it has always overwhelmed me.”
by Madhu Mishra