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Nitish sniffs foul play in pullout

Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday said he suspected “foul play” in the withdrawal of nomination of the JD(U)’s Kishanganj candidate, Akhtarul Iman.

Tyaag nahi, daal mein kuchh kala hain (It was not a sacrifice but some foul play was behind it),” said Nitish, while addressing an election meeting in Purnea.

The JD(U) Kishanganj candidate on Tuesday took a high moral ground that he was withdrawing because he wanted to avoid split of Muslim votes, which may pave way for a victory of BJP candidate Dilip Kumar Jaiswal.

He had cited how Shahnawaz Hussain, a BJP candidate, had won the Kishanganj seat, exploiting on the division of votes between the RJD nominee, Taslimuddin, and Congress’s Asrarul Haq in 1999. Iman’s exit from the fray might have its bearing on the Kocha Dhaman and Baisi Assembly seats in the same Seemanchal region going to polls on April 24.

To Nitish’s dismay in the middle of the battle, Iman’s withdrawal from the fray has, apparently, created a perception that the minorities who constituted 16.5 per cent of the state’s electorate were not finding the JD(U) as a formidable option to take on Narendra Modi’s roller coaster.

Iman had said he had tried to get in touch with the chief minister to inform him about his decision but had failed to do so.

Iman’s announcement had left the JD(U) red-faced. Its national president Sharad Yadav had gone to Kishanganj to campaign for Iman and had to leave after he came to know that his candidate had pulled out. Yadav had remarked that it appears that the candidate had sold his Iman (integrity) and criticised him for taking a decision without consulting the party.

JD(U) president Bashishtha Narayan Singh, who had handed out the party membership to Iman when he had left the RJD to join the JD(U), said: “Iman had done an unethical act and had no moral right to stay in the party.”

He added that the BJP and the Congress both could be behind Iman’s decision to withdraw from the contest.

The withdrawal at this hour left the JD(U) with no scope to put up a replacement from Kishanganj seat, where voting is scheduled on April 24. The constituency will now witness a direct contest between Asrarul Haque of the Congress and BJP’s D.K. Jaiswal.


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