Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today hit the campaign trail for by-elections to Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan assembly seats which his JD(U) must retain convincingly to arrest its further erosion. The by-elections to both seats have been necessitated by the deaths of respective JD(U) MLAs.
Tarapur MLA Mewa Lal Chaudhary died in the second wave of COVID 19 while Shashi Bhushan Hazari, who represented reserved Kusheshwar Asthan breathed his last at a Delhi hospital where he was undergoing treatment for Hepatitis.
After the assembly elections last year, Mr Kumar retained the Chief Minister’s post, though his party suffered a major slump and its tally dipped to under 45 seats in the 243-strong assembly.
It also lost the edge to the BJP, its junior ally for many years, which returned with a tally of more than 70, finishing second in terms of the number of seats after RJD.
A major factor that seems to be going in favour of Mr Kumar is that the NDA, of which he is a part, has presented a picture of cohesion, unlike the opposition which seems to be in a divided mess.
The old Congress-RJD alliance is now over and both parties are fighting it out in the by-elections.
Queering the pitch further, Chirag Paswan’s faction of the LJP has fielded its candidates in both seats.
Although not much of a force to reckon with across the state, Chirag Paswan has a point to prove in Tarapur – which falls under his own Jamui Lok Sabha seat – and Kusheshwar Asthan, which is a part of reserved Samastipur parliamentary constituency represented by his cousin Prince Raj who sided with uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras to split the party founded by his late father Ram Vilas Paswan.
Nitish Kumar gave a clear indication of the value he attaches to the cohesion in the NDA for the victory of his candidates in the two seats.
At his rallies in both Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan he sought to underscore “the candidate is not just of one party but of the entire NDA. Leaders of the BJP and the LJP (Paras faction) have come out in open support”.
Voting for both seats will take place on October 30.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)