The Leningrad of Bihar! Why Giriraj Singh's victory in Begusarai is Ideologically significant
After defeating the poster boy of ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ Kanhaiya Kumar, the message from Begusarai is in your face for the Left intellectuals who thought they can influence the people from their ivory towers. People showed them how irrelevant they really are.
- Dr. Govind Raj Shenoy
BJP Candidate from Begusarai Giriraj Singh showing the victory sign after defeating the much hyped Left candidate Kanhaiya Kumar
Begusarai in Bihar has the distinction or misfortune of being called "Leningrad of Bihar" depending upon which side of the political spectrum one comes from. Though it is considered a Left bastion, CPI has won it only twice, in 1967 and in 1996. It was CPI on its own in 1967 and in a grand alliance with Lalu Yadav in 1996.
In 2014, BJP candidate Bhola Prasad Singh won here, defeating RJD candidate Tanveer Hassan by over 60,000 votes. BJP got 39.7% of the votes, RJD 34.3% and CPI candidate Rajendra Prasad 17.9%.
This seat was chosen by Kanhaiya Kumar because the Left ecosystem believed Begusarai still was a Left Fortress. The ground reality was 17.9% votes they gathered in 2014 were largely thanks to Nitish Kumar's JDU, which was contesting independently of NDA.
Liberal Jamaat make Kanhaiya Kumar a scapegoat?
Did Kanhaiya choose Begusarai because it is a Left stronghold ? The joke is on those who believe this story. It was pure caste equation. Kanhaiya hails from Bhumihar caste and they have 4.5 Lakh votes in the constituency, the strongest caste group by miles. Leftist intellectuals, Bollywood activists, poets and sundries descended on Begusarai, demanding, in fact, blackmailing voters to choose Kanhaiya.
The secular media played a great role too. They hand picked people and showed how Bhumihar youths and Brahmin youths were rooting for Kanhaiya. The narrative was, "Kanhaiya is brilliant and he needs to win. Let Modi win rest of India. There will be Kaante Ki Takkar in the Parliament." The Anarkali of Āra, aka Swara Bhaskar played her role too, blurting out Gangs of Wasseypur dialogues.
Strangely, intellectuals including Javed Akhtar dissociated from RLD candidate Tanvir Hassan. They left the people with either Kanhaiya or Giriraj Singh to choose from. Why was that? RJD was in a 6 party alliance that included Congress and CPI-ML. In spite of that, CPI demanded 6 seats in Bihar, including Begusarai. Remember, even Nitish Kumar had given them just 2 seats in 2014. That meant Kanhaiya didn't get the support of RJD in spite of falling on the feet of Lalu Yadav to begin his political journey.
While Kanhaiya's Left Ecosystem began their fight for Leningrad of Bihar right from December, Amit Shah waited to make his move. The Chanakya always makes his moves late. Giriraj Singh, the firebrand from Nawada was moved to Begusarai.
Giriraj Singh was extremely unhappy about this change in constituency. He was sulking in Delhi for being the only BJP MP in Bihar to be shunted out of his comfort zone. Amit Shah talked to him. Giriraj Singh took the next flight to Patna and was in Begusarai the next day, twirling his moustache and doing what he does best, campaigning.
Left's electoral calculations went horribly wrong!
So what was the Left's strategy? The calculation was simple. Left’s core voters were not more than 1.7 Lakhs in Begusarai. Add Yadav votes and Muslim votes, it wasn't going to cross 3.5 Lakhs. Amit Shah wanted to ‘crush’ Kanhaiya Kumar and hence pitted the strongest Bhumihar leader from Bihar. It was game, set and match BJP.
Kanhaiya poached into RJD's votes and reached 2.69 Lakhs as people opposed to BJP thought Kanhaiya was a stronger candidate than Tanvir Hassan. Kanhaiya got 22% votes while Tanvir Hassan who had secured 34% votes in 2014 managed to attract just 16%. Giriraj Singh took the majority middle class votes, Nitish Kumar's votes, the votes of beneficiaries of Modi's welfare schemes and most importantly the largest chunk of Bhumihar votes. Reports from the ground suggest several young people who were initially working for Kanhaiya from December 2018 went on to vote Giriraj Singh. Why ? A large segment of Begusarai believed Kanhaiya Kumar is an anti-national and voting him was like voting against India. The moustache twirling "toxic Hypernationalism" of Giriraj Singh sealed the fate. The Leningrad of Bihar had fallen to the Fascist Saffron Brigade by a margin of over 4.2 Lakh votes as BJP got 56% votes.
The Battle of Leningrad of Bihar was as important for BJP as winning Amethi. They knew Delhi was with them. They just made the JNUdhari lick the dust along with the Janeudhari of Amethi. Truth is, Left cannot win even 1000 votes without playing caste and religious cards and without strong allies.
Increasing irrelevance of the Left
Left parties, which were the second largest groups in the first 3 general elections have been reduced to the rubble in the past decade and a half. They have been wiped out from their former citadels in West Bengal and Tripura. They are crawling to the whims of Islamists for their survival in Kerala. The causes for this disintegration are manifold. They have done too many flip-flops in policy. From associating with BJP against "corrupt" Congress to cozying upto Congress to oust "Communal" BJP, Left lost their moral authority in fight against corruption. They have aligned with Lalu Yadav, Nitish Kumar, Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi and practically every party in India for their existence.
But favoring the "Tukde Tukde Gangs" of JNU and talking Pakistan's language on too many occasions has been the greatest undoing of the Left. Even though the Leftist ecosystem they built under patronage from Indira Gandhi to Sonia Gandhi still thrives, the voters, the common people have deserted them. The "Leftist Intellectuals" don't understand this and can't see the ground reality. They still believe they are the opinion makers and when people don't conform to their "idea of India", they unleash the "Intolerance" propaganda.
Some battles are as important as the war itself because they carry a message. This message from Begusarai is in your face for the Leftist intellectuals who thought they can influence the people from their ivory towers. People showed them how irrelevant they really are!
(The writer is a columnist and writes mostly on Politics, Cricket and Cinema)