New Delhi: Former Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar is likely to contest the 2019 elections from the Begusarai seat in Bihar on a Communist Party of India ticket.
According to the Times of India, the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Nationalist Congress Party, Loktantrik Janata Dal and Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular are considering supporting Kumar’s candidacy against the Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal (United) combine.
The Begusarai seat is currently held by the BJP’s Bhola Singh. The saffron party won the seat for the first time in 2014 with 39.72% of the vote. The RJD came second with 34.3% and the CPI third, with 17.8%. In arithmetic terms, the two parties polled more votes than the BJP.
Kumar is from the Bihat panchayat in the Begusarai district, where his mother works as an angandwadi worker and his father was a small farmer.
The Times of India quoted CPI state secretary Satya Narayan Singh as saying, “Lalu during an informal talk with us offered the Begusarai seat to Kanhaiya.” While the seat was supposed to go to an RJD candidate according to the ‘sitting-second formula’, the newspaper reported, Lalu wanted Kanhaiya to contest from there.
However, the Indian Express quoted Kanhaiya Kumar as saying, “I have always said that I am keen to join the parliamentary process. But it is my party that has to take a call on it by starting the due process. Whether I contest or not is not important. What is important is the need to stitch together a united front.”
In February 2016, when eight JNU students were charged with sedition after an event on campus, Kumar was the president of the students’ union. In a move that was criticised by opposition leaders and civil society groups, who slammed the government for trying to silence those who criticise it, he was jailed along with Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya. Soon after he was released from jail, he met Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad.