Battle enters final stage

Candidates announced for all four urban centres

By Roshan Kumar
  • Published 24.09.15

The battle lines for four urban constituencies have been drawn with both the alliances declaring their candidates.

While the BJP is contesting all four constituencies Bankipore, Kumhrar, Patna Sahib and Digha, the grand alliance of the Congress, RJD and JDU are contesting different seats.

JDU spokesperson Rajeev Ranjan Prasad is contesting from Digha while Congress has pitted Akhil Haider and Kumar Ashish from Kumhrar and Bankipore seats, respectively. Santosh Mehta of the RJD will try his luck from Patna Sahib, which is represented by the BJP's old warhorse and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Nand Kishore Yadav.

Rajeev Ranjan, a known face seen on TV channels defending the JDU, is not new in the city's electoral politics although he had unsuccessfully contested the election against BJP veteran Sushil Kumar Modi in 1990 and 1995 from Patna Central constituency, which is known as Kumhrar after delimitation. Digha is the state's largest constituency having 400 booths with around 4 lakh voters.

Pitted against Sanjeev Chaurasia, the son of senior BJP leader Ganga Prasad, Rajveev will go to voters with the good governance message of chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Rajveev, who has a masters' degree in law and social welfare from Magadh University and postgraduate diploma degree on ecology and environment from Indian Institute of Ecology Environment, New Delhi, said: "The Nitish government has done a lot for Patna - building several flyovers, parks and other public amenities."

Sources said Rajeev's journey will not be easy as Digha, like other urban centres in the state, is considered to be a traditional BJP bastion. At present, the seat is represented by Poonam Devi, a rebel JDU lawmaker, who sided with former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.

Ashish, who entered the Congress politics as an NSUI worker in 1995, is said to be choice of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

Ashish, who has held various party posts, including state Congress vice-president and state Youth Congress president, has done his schooling from Loyola High School, Patna. Like Rajeev, Ashish too has a difficult opponent in sitting BJP MLA Nitin Navin from Bankipore. Nitin, son of late Navin Kishore Prasad Sinha, is an MLA from Bankipore for two consecutive terms.

Ashish will go to voters with the problem Bankipore faces such as waterlogging, open manholes, drainage problems and others. Ashish said: "Bankipore is heart of Patna but the area is full with problems. I will address each and every issue affecting people."

However, Nitin, who seems to be confident, claims he is not facing any challenge from Ashish but his main challenge is to increase the victory margin. In 2010, Nitin had defeated Congress's Rajesh Sinha by a margin of 62,000 votes. Nitin said: "My main target is to increase the victory margin this time."

Like Bankipore, Kumhrar and Patna Sahib too have sent BJP MLAs with highest margin. While sitting BJP MLA from Kumhrar, Arun, won by highest margin of 67,808 votes, his senior in the party, Nand Kishore, won from Patna Sahib by 65,337 votes.

Against Arun, Congress candidate Akhil will try his luck, while from Patna Sahib, Santosh will be the RJD candidate. Santosh, former deputy mayor of Patna Municipal Corporation, was a JDU member but after seat sharing, Patna Sahib went to the RJD. Santosh will now contest the election on an RJD ticket.

Santosh's biggest advantage is that he belongs to the Kushwaha community, which has a sizeable population in Patna Sahib. Similarly, Akhil is close relative of NCP leader and Katihar MP Tariq Anwar. Akhil had unsuccessfully contested election from Kumhrar earlier too. The Patna urban seats are considered stronghold of the BJP since the 1995 Assembly polls.