The fight between the RJD and the Congress in Kochadhaman Assembly seat of Kishanganj district appears to be benefiting the JD(U) candidate.
As the RJD and Congress are in alliance for the Lok Sabha elections, the Assembly segment is seeing a three-way contest with the BJP on the back foot. The RJD has fielded Intaqab Alam Babloo and the Congress Sadik Samdani. Their fight is giving a cutting edge to JD(U) candidate Mujahid Alam, who was a runner-up in the 2010 Assembly election.
The RJD’s Akhtarul Iman had defeated the JD(U)’s Alam by about 10,000 votes in 2010. The by-election was necessitated after Akhtarul vacated the seat to fight the parliamentary election from Kishanganj. Though Iman quit the RJD and filed his nomination as a JD(U) candidate for the Lok Sabha seat, he later withdrew from the contest. He did not withdraw his name as the deadline for that had passed.
So, while the RJD and Congress stand to gain because of the alliance for the Lok Sabha elections, the same advantage does not extend to the by-election, scheduled along with the parliamentary election on April 24. On the contrary, there are confusing signals over the Congress candidate in the fray.
Congress spokesperson and state vice-president Prem Chandra Mishra told The Telegraph: “Sadik Samdani filed his nomination on a Congress ticket. He could not withdraw from the fray as the last date of withdrawal had passed before the Congress-RJD alliance happened. Now, he is not addressing public meetings and is saying he would support the RJD candidate for Kochadhaman Assembly segment.” But the situation on the ground is just the opposite. Samdani is campaigning. “We are holding frequent public meetings at different places. I am in the fray. Why should I withdraw? The party has not given me any written instruction to withdraw from the fray.” RJD state president Ram Chandra Purbey said: “I am unable to comment on the alliance and the situation in Kochadhaman. I can comment only after I observe the situation on returning to Patna. I am out of station now.”
If the Congress does not withdraw its candidate, the JD(U) candidate, Mujahid Alam, stands to directly gain from the division of votes. Muslim voters account for about 70 per cent of the population here and Muzaahid is very active, politically. To add to the confusion, ever since the JD(U)’s Lok Sabha candidate from Kishanganj, Akhtarul Iman, withdrew from the contest, his workers are supporting the Congress candidate.