Former JNU students union leader and CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar lost from Begusarai Lok Sabha seat in Bihar in 2019 Lok Sabha polls by a margin of 4,22,217 votes.
This 32-year-old left leader was pitted against controversial BJP leader and union minister Giriraj Singh and RJD’s Tanveer Hasan in a triangular contest after RJD leader and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son Tejashwi refused to back him despite CPI being a part of the larger grand alliance in the state before the election.
In 2014 Lok Sabha election, BJP’s Bhola Singh had won this seat by defeating RJD’s Tanveer Hasan by 58,335 votes.
Even in that “Wave” election, the CPI had managed to garner 1,92,693 votes and stood third, which shows that Begusarai is one rare Lok Sabha constituency in the Hindi heartland where CPI has a core voter base in lakhs.
In 2009 Lok Sabha elections, CPI’s Shatrughna Prasad Singh had lost from this seat by a margin of 40,837 votes and stood second.
Kanhaiya was banking on this core CPI vote base and his local credentials, apart from the Dalit-Muslim vote in this constituency.
“Neta Nahi, Beta Hai” was this students’ leader’s slogan in this election who had who most eloquently articulated the rising societal disaffection with Modi and the BJP’s authoritarianism in his rousing 2016 speech about Azaadi.
Giriraj, on the other hand, had to battle the “outsider” tag. He had openly expressed his displeasure over the change of his Lok Sabha seat. He had contested and won from Nawada Lok Sabha seat in 2014 elections but the seat went to BJP’s ally LJP in the seat-sharing pact this year.
Local BJP workers and leaders in Begusarai were clearly dejected with Giriraj’s tantrums just before elections, a benefit of which appeared to be going to Kumar and Hasan.
This triangular contest had become all the more interesting as Muslim vote was likely to split between Kanhaiya and Hasan and the dominant Bhumihar vote was going to be split between Kahhaiya and Giriraj.