The opposition RJD in Bihar on Monday threw its hat in the ring for upcoming biennial elections to the state legislative council, announcing candidates for three of the seven seats which are falling vacant shortly.
The party’s state unit president Jagadanand Singh announced the names of Mohd Qari Sohaib, Munni Rajak and Ashok Kumar Pandey underscoring that the choice of candidates was in line with the RJD’s commitment to the politics of “A to Z”, wherein all sections of the society found a voice.
Mr Sohaib is currently the party’s state youth wing chief while Mr Rajak, a Dalit, washed clothes to eke out a living before devoting herself to politics. Mr Pandey belongs to a Brahmin political family of Rohtas district, known to be loyal towards RJD supremo Lalu Prasad.
Making the announcement at a press conference, Jagadanand Singh said the party would contest “only these three seats” and rued “our reduced ability” to send members to the upper houses in state legislature and Parliament but expressed confidence that the RJD will regain the trust of the people of Bihar.
“Only RJD can provide an administration in which there is no terror of bulldozers and common people can live with dignity,” he said in an obvious dig at the BJP-led NDA.
Former party MLA and currently its spokesman Shakti Yadav, who was also present at the press conference, asserted that the candidature of Munni Rajak was reminiscent of former RJD MP Bhagwati Devi, a stone cutter whose talent for politics was spotted by Lalu Prasad.
“We are the political descendants of Lohia who had famously fielded a mehtarani (sweeper woman) against a maharani (a queen – allusion to Rajmata Vijayraje Scindia of Gwalior),” said Mr Yadav.
“Our party is the natural choice for all those who are uneasy with the current political atmosphere wherein religious and linguistic minorities are being bullied,” he added.
Of the seven seats where elections are due, five are currently held by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), one by ally BJP and one by expelled minister Mukesh Sahni who heads a fledgling outfit Vikassheel Insaan Party.
Notifications for the elections will be issued later this week. The NDA is yet to come out with names of its candidates.
Notably, among the five JD(U) MLCs, two – Qamar Alam and Ranvijay Singh – had got elected on RJD tickets but defected to the chief minister’s party ahead of the 2020 assembly polls.
Mr Sahni, who was inducted into the government at the instance of the BJP and later ousted at its instance, had got elected on the seat vacated by saffron party MLC Vinod Narayan Jha who is now an MLA.