The upcoming 11 March by-polls for one Lok Sabha seat (Araria) and two Assembly seats (Jahanabad and Bhabua) in Bihar, the date for which was announced by the Election Commission on Saturday, has led to differences among both the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Grand Alliance (GA) which is composed of the RJD and Congress as members within both the alliances have staked their claim over the three seats. The election to these three seats have been necessitated following the death of sitting members of these seats. Political observers say that the Bihar bypoll will be politically very  significant as it will be the first election after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar left and joined the NDA in July last year. The polls will also throw some light on the political might of RJD chief Lalu Prasad who is in prison, with the party now being run by his younger son Tejashwi Yadav.

In the 2014 general election, the RJD had contested the Araria seat alone and defeated the BJP and JDU candidates. However, this time the Congress has said that it will field its candidate from the seat. “We have won from the seat many times in the past and we will be fielding our candidate from the seat,” national Congress spokesperson Premchandra Mishra told the media in Patna on Friday.

Araria, which has sizable Muslim voters, was one of the only four seats from where the RJD candidate could win amidst the Modiwave that had swept Bihar in the 2014 elections where the NDA won on 31 out of the 40 seats.

The Congress feels that in the wake of its recent victories in the Rajasthan bypolls, Gurdaspur and Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh) and with its “secular” credentials, it can easily win the seat which was won by Tasleemuddin by polling over 4 lakh votes.

On Friday, RJD president Lalu Prasad Yadav, while speaking to the media in Ranchi where he is serving a prison sentence , said that his party will be fighting on all the three seats. Similarly, both the BJP and the JDU, who are NDA alliance partners, are staking claim over the Bhabua seat. In the 2015 polls, the BJP candidate had defeated the JDUcandidate by about 7,000 votes.

In Jahanabad, the fight is likely to more intense among the alliance partners  as apart from the BJP, the JDU, the other two allies in NDA, the Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RSLP), whose candidate was the runner up in 2015, have staked their claim over the seat.

Former CM Jitanram Manjhi, who leads HAM, has expressed his desire that the Jahanabad seat should be given to his candidate.

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