Thursday, March 28, 2019

How Kanhaiya Has The BJP Scrambling In Begusarai

BJP's Giriraj Singh is sulking and the RJD is yet to announce its candidate but underdog Kanhaiya's campaign is in full swing. Kanhaiya Kumar during a campaign in Begusarai town of
AVAN DAHAT/HUFFPOST INDIA-Kanhaiya Kumar during a campaign in Begusarai town of Bihar.



By Pavan Dahat



BEGUSARAI, Bihar — A large LED TV is a gift from a well-wisher, as are the five computers, the large square table and even the detailed constituency map of Begusarai pinned to a wall in a large room that serves as Kanhaiya Kumar’s makeshift election office in his uncle’s two-storey home near his modest house in Bihat town on the outskirts of Begusarai in Bihar.

“Even the vehicle you are sitting in is of Punjab number plate,” Kanhaiya said, as he set out to canvas for support, “It was given by one of our friends.”



On 24 March, the Communist Party of India (CPI) formally announced what many have been speculating for months now: Kanhaiya—the young Ph.D. in African Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University who most eloquently articulated the rising societal disaffection with Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) authoritarianism in his rousing 2016 speech about Azaadi or freedom—would be the party’s candidate from Begusarai Lok Sabha seat in Bihar, where he grew up

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The Azaadi speech, delivered soon after Kanhaiya was released after a month’s stint in prison on trumped-up charges of sedition, went viral—first as a YouTube remix and then as a song on the Gully Boy soundtrack—and turned him into a household name.



Kanhaiya formally joined the CPI national council in April 2018, and since then he has already addressed over 100 public meetings in almost every part of Begusarai Lok Sabha seat as a part of his public dialogues, or “Jan Samvad Karyakram”.

His keen political nous was visible earlier this year when he was the only public figure to offer a solemn salute at the funeral of Pintu Singh, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldier who died in the tragic bombing in Pulwama, Kashmir, on February 14 this year.


His opponents are taking notice.

The BJP has responded by fielding union minister Giriraj Singh from Begusarai — a controversial figure who epitomises the ruling party’s worst impulses.  Singh has often asked those who criticise the Modi government to go to Pakistan.

Like in the JNU election, where he was not considered a contender for the post until he delivered a fiery speech in the presidential debate a couple of days ahead of voting, Kanhaiya is starting out as an underdog here as well

Singh, who contested from Nawada in 2014, has made his displeasure clear at the constituency change. Despite the central leadership announcing his candidature last week, he is yet to visit Begusarai.

Like in the JNU election, where he was not considered a contender for the post until he delivered a fiery speech in the presidential debate a couple of days ahead of voting, Kanhaiya is starting out as an underdog here as well.

 He will not have a powerful party backing him, and while he is the only one to have begun his campaign already, his opponents will be tough to beat.

The third major player in the election, Tejashwi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, has kept its cards close to its chest. Initially, the CPI hoped the RJD would not support a candidate to make it easier for Kumar to win. While Yadav is yet to announce a candidate, political observers expect him to repeat Tanveer Hasan, who lost to the BJP in 2014 by a margin of 58,000 votes.

Win or lose, Kanhaiya makes it clear that Begusarai is home.

“I have decided that I will stay here only and will teach in a local college here,” he said. “I know everything about Begusarai because I belong to this place.”-HuffPost



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