Purnia, Jun 24: Stakes are high for the bypolls to the Purnia assembly seat in Bihar, slated for tomorrow, although the ruling NDA commands two-thirds majority in the state assembly.
NDA leaders believe that a victory in Purnia will affirm Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's popularity but an adverse result will give the opposition Congress, RJD, LJP and CPI-M more shells in their armoury to attack the ruling alliance.
The bypoll has been necessitated following the killing of BJP MLA Raj Kishore Keshri by a teacher Rupam Pathak in full public view at his residence in Purnia on January 4. Keshri's widow Kiran is BJP's nominee for the seat this time.
The pre-poll scenario witnessed an apparent break in the ties between the Lalu Prasad-led RJD and Ramvilas Paswan-led LJP. While Paswan has lent support to the Congress candidate Ramcharitra Yadav, the RJD is supporting CPI-M nominee Amit Sarkar, son of slain party MLA Ajit Sarkar. Altogether 2.31 lakh voters are eligible to cast their votes in the bypoll to decide the fate of seven candidates. Local newspapers have been carrying huge advertisements explaining as to how the bypoll has been “needlessly” thrust upon the people of Purnia.
The advertisement is aimed at creating a sympathy wave in favour of Kiran Keshri, the BJP nominee. It seeks to highlight how badly the Keshri family has suffered in the hands of political rivals.
The photograph of a gloomy Kiran along with her two minor sons dominates the city throughfares. “My husband has been killed at the behest of political adversaries because of the love and affection he used to receive”, Kiran said while claiming that she was sure of her victory.
The CPI-M has a base in the area, but Purnia just adjacent to West Bengal is swayed by the Mamata Banerjee factor of the neighbouring state and Amit Sarkar, the Left candidate, could find it heavy going for this reason. “I have support from the Left and RJD... People loved my father and I think they love me and will give me votes”, Amit said.
“I enjoy support from all”, Ramcharitra Yadav, considered close to jailed former MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, claimed and said he would come out with flying colours this time as the situation was favourable. Though the BJP camp is upbeat and confident about its win, riding the sympathy wave as well as the ‘good image' of chief minister Nitish Kumar, it is trying to brush the Rupam Pathak issue under the carpet.
The recent killing of four persons at Forbesganj in a police firing has become a talking point, particularly among the minorities.“It is bound to influence the Muslims”, a Muslim leader said.
In the 2010 assembly poll, while Raj Kishore Keshri won the seat polling 54,568 votes, Congress nominee Ramcharitra Yadav secured 38,984 votes finishing second. Amit Sarakar bagged 23,052 votes.All the booths in the Purnia assembly constituency will be manned strictly by Bihar Military Police (BMP) personnel and District Armed Police (DAP), official sources said. PTI