Khamosh! The inimitable voice that once silenced its rivals is now directed against the BJP this time. Well, the saffron camp finds the going tough in the prestigious battle for Patna Sahib LS seat with Bollywood actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha now joining the Congress which is a part of the six-party Grand Alliance formed to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
For the past 28 years since he joined the BJP in 1992, state’s own “Bihari Babu” as Sinha is popular with this nickname had proved to be an asset for the party which used him as a “trump card”—employing him both as a candidate and a star campaigner for the kind of popularity he enjoyed being a prominent actor. It has become a thing of the past now with Sinha joining the opposition camp after prolonged verbal duel with the party.
It is also a fact that Sinha has been winning the Patna Sahib seat as a BJP candidate since it came into existence in 2009 after delimitation on his personal charisma as no top party leaders campaigned for him in the past.
In 2009, he won the seat with a comfortable margin of over 1.66 lakh votes while in 2014, his victory margin increased to over 2.65 lakh, indicating his hold over the voters. In 2019, however, the scene has undergone a complete change now. The politician upon whom the BJP hugely relied for success has now become its principal challenger.
At presently, Sinha is locked in a straight contest with Union minister and BJP candidate Ravi Shankar Prasad, his former colleague and fellow caste man. The challenge before Prasad is that he has never contested any elections in the past and primarily kept his focus on national politics. So, in a way, he also faces the “outsider” tag although he too belongs to Patna, a quote like Sinha.
The BJP prestige involved in this seat is underlined from the fact that the party chief Amit Shah himself held a road-show in Patna on Saturday evening, traversing through the congested lanes of Patna City in the hot and humid weather for over three hours and begging for votes for his candidate who is new to electoral politics.
Apart from him, PM Narendra Modi too is to hold his election rally in Patna on 15 May in his support. Party cadres votes and personal support base of chief minister Nitish Kumar are the advantages for Prasad. Yet, the political pundits say Sinha has an edge over the BJP candidate for various reasons. Not only has Sinha his own fan following for being a movie star but he is also set to get the support of Muslims and Yadav for Lalu Prasad’s RJD now being part of the Grand Alliance. Muslims and Yadavs alone account for over 30 per cent of the total vote bank.
In addition to that, Bihari Babu can bank on the support of the Dalit, Kushwaha and fisherman community voters for former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, former union minister Upendra Kushwaha and backward caste leader Mukesh Sahni now to his side. But what is likely to turn things in his favour is his fellow Kayastha caste voters who dominate the constituency.