Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM joins the fight
Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) announced that his party AIMIM would contest the Bihar elections but restricted the fight to the Seemanchal region, which includes Katihar, Purnea, Araria and Kishanganj.
Owaisi appointed Akhtar Imam as the Chief of the Bihar Unit and will be responsible for implementing the poll strategy of AIMIM. Owaisi knows his limitations and has therefore wisely restricted his resources and attention where his party can make most impact. The Seemanchal region, situated in northeastern part of Bihar, is underdeveloped when compared to other areas but also has a sizeable Muslim population.
The AIMIM chief was quick to clarify that his party would not enter any pre-poll alliance and blamed all parties including JD(U), Congress and BJP for Seemanchal region’s backwardness.
Samajwadi Party too eyeing Seemanchal
Given that Seemanchal region has a sizeable population of Yadav and Muslim communities, Mulayam Singh-led Samajwadi Party is eyeing the region as well, since both communities have been traditional supporters of SP.
Mulayam Singh is reported to be having hectic parleys with NCP, the other party to walk out of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance, over joining hands and seat sharing. Though late in the day, Mulayam Singh is trying to reach out to NCP, and as per some reports, is even open to accepting Tariq Anwar, the sitting NCP MP from Katihar, as SP’s choice for CM’s post. Tariq Anwar is reported to have had several meetings with Raghunath Jha, ex-RJD and now SP leader, and Kiranmay Nanda, SP’s General Secretary and Bihar Unit Chief.
This is indeed a new development, as the move will give SP an edge in Seemanchal, while working against the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad alliance that also reaches out to the same segment i.e. Yadav and Muslim vote.
In addition to NCP, SP is also reaching out to smaller regional parties like ex-RJD MP Taslimuddin’s Seemanchal Krantikar Morcha (SKM) and former Union Minister Nagmani’s Samras Samaj Party (SSP), hoping to break the traditional stronghold of both the JD(U) and RJD.
Congress steps up its campaign effort
With the poll dates announced, Congress has gone into action mode forming separate committees for election and manifesto preparation. The 19-member Congress Pradesh Committee comprises stalwarts like AICC General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, former Union Minister Akhilesh Singh, and PCC Chief Ashok Choudhury.
The 11-member Manifesto Committee includes Bihar PCC Vice Presidents PC Mishra, VS Dubey, PS Kushwaha, along with former PCC Chief RJ Sinha. Congress has decided to restrict the seats it will be fighting this time and will contest for just 40 seats.
Election Commission orders several key transfers
Once the ‘Model Code of Conduct’ kicks in, the Election Commission has full authority over the local administrative structure. Therefore, in keeping with its objective of ensuring free and fair elections, it has transferred the State Home Secretary Amir Subhani and replaced him with Sudhir Kumar Rakesh. In addition, the EC also ordered the transfer of 9 District Magistrates, 7 SSP and SP level police officers. The order however, does not cover Sector Officers, even though they are directly related with conducting the poll.
Politician in focus: Sharad Yadav (Born 1 July 1947)
Born in Akhmau village in Hoshangabad district in Madhya Pradesh, Sharad Yadav went on to study Civil Engineering and was a Gold Medalist from Jabalpur Engineering College. In addition to his studies, he was also busy in student politics and was soon elected the President of the Students Union. Being deeply influenced by the teachings of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, he was personally guided by Jayaprakash Narayan when he launched his movement.
He was elected as the Lok Sabha MP from Jabalpur Constituency in 1974 and was re-elected in 1977. He later shifted to Baduan constituency in U.P and was elected as MP for Lok Sabha in 1989. He subsequently moved to Madhepura constituency in Bihar, which he developed as his stronghold over the years. He has been consistently winning from the Madhepura constituency since 1991 but lost in the 2014 General Elections.
He has served as Union Cabinet Minister of Textiles and Food Processing (1989-90), Union Cabinet Minister of Civil Aviation (13 October 1999-31 August 2001), Union Cabinet Minister of Labour (1 Sept 2001- 30 Jun 2002), Union Cabinet Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (1 July 2002-15 May 2004).
Constituency in focus: Raxaul
Raxaul is a border town in East Champaran district and is located on the Indian side of the Indo-Nepal border. Due to its location, Raxaul has emerged as a major transit point for trade between India and Nepal. This is further augmented by the fact that Raxaul is a major rail terminus. As per 2011 Census, the total population is 240,347 with an average literacy rate of 60%. Main languages spoken are Bhojpuri, Hindi and Nepali.
Winner in 2010 Assembly Poll: Dr Ajay Kumar Singh, BJP
Margin of win: 10,117 votes; 8.92% of total valid votes
Runner-up: Raj Nandan Rai, LJP
Male voters: 66,318; Female voters: 47,137; Total: 134,455
Polling %: 54 Male Candidates who contested: 6; Female Candidates: 1
Polling stations: 209
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