Kanhaiya Kumar is in the media spotlight, but Virendra Kumar has been non-controversial.


New Delhi: While Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student-turned-politician Kanhaiya Kumar has stolen most of the media attention, another JNU student leader Virendra Kumar, who is also in poll fray, has hardly made any headlines.

Kanhaiya Kumar is contesting from Bihar’s Begusrai Lok Sabha seat as CPI candidate against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) heavyweight candidate Giriraj Singh and Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) Tanveer Hasan, while Virendra Kumar is in poll battle from Jharkhnad’s Godda seat as candidate of the Jharkhand Jantantrik Morcha against another BJP heavyweight and two-time MP Nishikant Dube. The Congress-JVM-RJD together has fielded Pradeep Yadav (JVM) as consensus candidate on this seat.

One of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand, the Godda Lok Sabha seat is BJP’s stronghold. The constituency, spread over Godda, Devgarh and Dumka, is famous for its coal mines. In the last seven Lok Sabha elections held on the Godda Lok Sabha seat, the BJP has won six times. Godda has six Assembly segments.  Also, the Godda seat is the land of a tribe called Santhal.

The Lok Sabha polls on Begusrai and Godda seats are due on 29 April and 19 May respectively.

Virendra Kumar, who comes from a humble backward caste background, has been associated with the students’ movement for almost a decade and has successfully established a strong mass struggle in the Godda area.

Pulkit, a close aide of Virendra Kumar, told The Sunday Guardian: “There have been several factors behind Kanhaiya Kumar’s rising popularity and the most important one is his association with an alleged anti-national sloganeering event and his further arrest in the case. On the other hand, Virendra Kumar has been away from any such controversies and has only worked for the poor on the ground.”

“Long before Kanhaiya Kumar came into the limelight, Virendra Kumar had started to fight against crony capitalism and its exploitation trail in Jharkhand. He always stood up and spoke against the injustice in the tribal belt. He also opposed a prominent industrialist’s power plant in Godda. These contributions helped him gain popularity in the tribal region,” Pulkit said, adding that Virendra Kumar has never worked for media headlines and has always focused on his work on the ground.

“Though it’s good that Kanhaiya Kumar is receiving media attention, unfortunately, this is not the case with a majority of workers who fight against injustice across the country. Also, elections are fought on the ground and not in newsrooms. I believe that support on the ground is more important,” Pulkit said.

Currently, the Begusarai Lok Sabha seat is held by Dr Bhola Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who defeated Tanveer Hasan in 2014 by a margin of 58,000 votes. This time, the Bhumihar and Muslim-dominated Begusarai is likely to witness a triangular contest.

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