- Congress's Shatrughan Sinha takes on BJP's Ravi Shankar from Patna Saheb
- Patna Saheb constituency is considered to be BJP's stronghold
- Shatrughan Sinha has won from the Patna Saheb seat in 2009 and 2014
BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow in Bihar's Patna Saheb seems like a boldface message for Shatrughan Sinha, who quit the party and joined the Congress last month. Shatrughan Sinha is contesting the national election from his two-time constituency for the first time as a Congress candidate and faces his former colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP.
Patna Saheb near the outskirts of Patna is considered one of the BJP's strongest constituencies because of its caste combination. It was created in 2008 after delimitation.
The details of Amit Shah's roadshow, released to the media on Wednesday, have surprised many. He has chosen one of the shortest routes through the constituency but it will pass by the home and lanes where Shatrughan Sinha grew up. The roadshow will start at the "Kadamkuan Durga Temple" just a few meters from the ancestral house of Shatrughan Sinha and it will pass through Sahitya Sammelan, Thakurbari road, Bakarganj and Baripath before ending at Udyog Bhavan. The stretch is hardly two-km long but will touch every area connected to Shatrughan Sinha, who is often called "Bihari Babu" by fans.
BJP leaders confident of victory say the route was chosen to prove a point - that whatever support Shatrughan Sinha claims in Patna Saheb is mainly because he was in the BJP.
Shatrughan Sinha, an actor-turned-politician, won from the constituency in 2009 and 2014. The 72-year-old, a sharp critic of the BJP leadership in recent years, finally walked out of the party when he was passed over for Ravi Shankar Prasad. In the build-up to the inevitable exit, the outspoken former minister had jabbed the party repeatedly, even referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as "Outgoing Sir-ji".
Perhaps daring his party to sack him, Shatrughan Sinha also hobnobbed with opposition leaders; he was seen at a grand opposition rally organized by Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata in January. The BJP refused to initiate the break-up but made it difficult for the rebel to continue by dropping him from his constituency.