Student leader Kanhaiya Kumar today declared that he will contest the elections as the Left candidate from Bihar's Begusarai, but without weakening the coalition of opposition parties that intends to take on the ruling BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
"I will fight the elections because that is what the people want," the former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University student union said. "But that does not mean that we will weaken the anti-BJP coalition that's forming across the country. My decision is not for any party or individual but in the interests of the people."
The Left parties decided to field Mr Kumar as their candidate from Begusarai a day after he was left out by the coalition of opposition parties in Bihar on Friday. Although he was widely expected to be the opposition's candidate from the constituency, it eventually went to Tejashwi Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The Left slammed the opposition for excluding them from the seat-sharing deal, saying that the decision was not in sync with ground realities in the state.
Addressing mediapersons, the student leader claimed that "there is an atmosphere of hatred and an undeclared emergency" in the country that needs to be opposed. "Our fight is only with the BJP because if they win the elections today, we may never have elections again," he added.
A likely reason for Mr Kumar being left out of the opposition coalition is the fact that Begusarai -- called the Leningrad of Bihar because it's the Ground Zero of Left politics in the state -- happens to be considered safe for a Muslim candidate. The RJD plans to field Tanvir Hasan, who lost in 2014 by a margin of 60,000 votes. Janata Dal (United) candidate Monazir Hasan had won the seat in 2009.
RJD sources believe Mr Kumar does not stand much of a chance against Union Minister Giriraj Singh, the BJP candidate. They believe that people from the student leader's Bhumihar community would be more inclined to back Mr Singh in the upcoming elections.
The Lok Sabha election will be held in seven phases, from April 11 to May 19. The results will be declared on May 23.
(With inputs from agencies)