- Kanhaiya Kumar was widely expected to contest from Begusarai
- RJD leaders say he was not part of coalition discussions for the seat
- Mr Kumar has less chances of standing up to BJP's Giriraj Singh: Sources
The opposition coalition in Bihar has finally come out with its seat deal and candidates for next month's national election, and firebrand student leader Kanhaiya Kumar is not on it. Kanhaiya Kumar, the former president of the JNU student's union, was widely expected to be the opposition's candidate from Begusarai.
But it so happens that in the coalition discussions that seat, initially meant to be given to Kanhaiya Kumar's CPI, will fall in the RJD's share.
Leaders of Tejashwi Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) say Kanhaiya Kumar's name was never part of the discussions. But RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha announced that the alliance would support a CPI (ML) candidate - not a CPI one - and that person would contest from the RJD quota.
RJD leaders say in private that Tejashwi Yadav "didn't like" Kanhaiya Kumar as he hardly returned calls whenever the RJD leader tried to reach out to him.
Kanhaiya Kumar was greeted warmly by Lalu Yadav when he visited Bihar after the JNU sedition controversy in 2016. But the former chief minister is currently serving a jail term for corruption and Tejashwi Yadav is in charge. Sources say there is a fear within the party that Kanhaiya, a skilled orator, may outshine Tejashwi, Lalu Prasad's younger and more politically adept son.
Another significant reason is that Begusarai - it is called the Leningrad of Bihar as it is the Ground Zero of Left politics in the state - is considered safe for a Muslim candidate. The RJD plans to field Tanvir Hasan, who lost in 2014 by a margin of 60,000 votes. In 2009, Janata Dal United candidate Monazir Hasan won this seat.
RJD sources believe Kanhaiya Kumar has less chances of standing up to the BJP's Giriraj Singh, a Union Minister known for his controversial pronouncements. Kanhaiya's Bhumihar caste, say the sources, may be more inclined to back Giriraj Singh.