The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is hopeful that it would win the Araria (Bihar) byelection, which is being seen as a litmus test for both RJD and the JDU. This is the first poll the two parties are contesting after the collapse of the grand-alliance between them which also had the Congress as an ally.
The byelection, likely to be announced soon, has been necessitated due to the death of Araria’s sitting RJD MP Mohammad Taslimuddin in September last year. Sources said both RJD and JDU are in touch with Sarfaraz Alam, the late Taslimuddin’s son, who is presently a JDU MLA, to contest the byelection. According to sources, the byelection is significant as it will test the prevailing public mood after the JDU and the BJP joined hands and formed an NDA government in the state. It will also set the tone for next year’s Lok Sabha elections. In 2014, Taslimuddin won the election by a margin of 1.46 lakh votes by defeating his nearest rival Pradeep Kumar Singh of the BJP who got 2.61 lakh votes. Taslimuddin got over 4.07 lakh ovtes.
At that time, it was a triangular contest as the BJP, RJD and JDU had contested separately. JDU’s Vijay Kumar Mandal had got 2.21 lakh votes and had come third. “If the votes of the JDU and the BJP are added, it will outnumber the RJD votes. In the changed scenario, the BJP and the JDU (NDA) will field a common candidate and, thus, it will be difficult for the RJD to retain the seat,” said a BJP leader. “People will punish the JDU and BJP for hijacking the mandate of the 2015 Assembly elections, which was for the RJD-JDU-Congress Mahagathbandhan. In the 2014 elections, our candidate had got more than 41% votes in Araria. We hope that the RJD-Congress alliance will get even more number of votes and will be able to retain the seat,” said senior RJD leader Chitaranjan Gagan, while speaking to The Sunday Guardian.
He also said that the RJD won the seat despite a “Modi wave” and therefore there is no reason why it should not repeat its performance in the byelection. Asked whether the party leadership has decided to field Sarfaraz Alam, Gagan said a final decision will be taken after talking to the workers of the constituency. Sarfaraz Alam contested the 2015 Assembly elections on a JDU ticket as part of electoral understanding with the RJD, which now wants that he comes back to the party of his father and contest the byelection for his seat. Sources said Alam may agree to contest from the RJD.