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Bihar Election 2020: Former CM, Ex-Speaker to contest in Imamganj

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Gaya, Oct 24: An exciting three-cornered contest is on the cards in the reserved Imamganj assembly segment where former Speaker of Bihar assembly Uday Narayan Choudhary seeks to wrest back the seat from ex-Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.

Jitan Ram Manjhi

The Lok Janshakti Party has queered the pitch for the main contenders by fielding a former legislators daughter-in-law in the fray. There are a total of 10 candidates in the fray on the seat which will go to vote in the first phase on October 28.

The defeat, in 2015, at the hands of Manjhi had come as a big humiliation for Choudhary, both of them former loyalists of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who shared an acrimonious relationship since the days they were in the JD(U).

Bihar Elections 2020: Assembly wise schedule, date of polling and counting

Choudhary, who is in the fray on an RJD ticket, had as Speaker thwarted attempts by Manjhi, then the Chief Minister, to cause a split in the JD(U) party upon being asked to step down to make way for the return of Nitish Kumar by disqualifying legislators loyal to him.

Manjhi, in an apparent bid to get even with Mr Choudhary before resigning, recommended a CBI probe into the murder of a former MP, killed about a decade ago, in which the Speakers hand had been suspected by supporters of those dead.

The former chief minister thereafter floated his own outfit Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and contested the assembly polls as an NDA constituent while Choudhary remained with the JD(U) - then a part of the Grand Alliance which also included RJD and Congress.

To settle scores with Mr Choudhary, Mr Manjhi left his traditional Barachatti seat in 2015 and entered poll fray from neighbouring Imamganj constituency and won it.

Manjhis victory from Imamganj was, however, not much to flaunt about as the former CM tasted defeat in Makhdumpur which he had won on a JD(U) ticket in 2010 assembly polls.

Meanwhile, Choudhary burnt his bridges with Nitish Kumar after the latter decided to return to the BJP-led NDA.

Choudhary is among three prominent Dalit leaders the other two being former ministers Shyam Rajak and Ramai Ram who joined the RJD after quitting the JD(U) in the recent past.

However, Choudhary alone has been considered for a ticket in the assembly polls.

The constituency is familiar turf for the 68-year-old Mr Choudhary who has represented it four times since 1990.

A victory against Manjhi, who has come of his own as a leader of the Mahadalits, would help him prove a point.

But, Manjhi is no pushover. A veteran politician who served as minister in the past governments of Congress, RJD as well as in Nitish Kumar's earlier NDA ministries in the state, has won assembly elections for a number of times since 1980.

Manjhi, is now back by Nitish Kumars side as an NDA constituent though he stopped short of merging HAM with JD(U).

In 2015, he had to pull off on his own steam, with only the BJP providing a bit of covering fire.

The LJP had been non-committal, viewing a fellow Dalits rise with suspicion, while the RLSP was struggling to find a ground beneath its own feet.

This time, besides the BJP, Manjhi is expected to receive the solid backing of the Chief Ministers party which has set aside seven seats from its quota for HAM which is essentially a splinter group of the JD(U).

Meanwhile, Chirag Paswan, the young LJP chief who has been giving sleepless nights to all major players of Bihar politics, has thrown the proverbial hat in the ring.

His candidate Shobha Sinha's father-in-law Ramswaroop Paswan had been a former Imamganj MLA who had, incidentally, won the seat by inflicting a defeat on Choudhary many years ago.

Sinha has also been playing the local versus outsider card to the hilt, underscoring the fact that she and her family belong to Imamganj, which is in crying need for progress, unlike Choudhary who hails from Patna and Mr Manjhi who has his roots in a far-off part of Gaya.

Polling will take place in Imamganj on October 28, and with counting of votes scheduled for November 10, the electorate can rest assured of a nail-biting finish.

The constieuncy located in Gaya district comes under the

Aurangabad Lok Sabha constituency. BJP's Sushil Kumar Singh is the MP from Aurangabad presently.

As per the 2019 voter list, there are 2,87,648 electorate in Imamganj constituency out of which women voters account for 1,36,000.

The social matrix of the constituency shows that Manjhi castemen population is around 55,000 while the Muslims and Yadavs together constitute around 65-70 thousand of the total population.

Lalu Prasad's party is once again relying on its old "MY" (muslim yadav) winning formula.

But, in the absence of charismatic RJD supremo from the poll scene, it would be interesting to see if the party's support base remains intact and vote en masse or not. When asked about the candidates, Narayan Manjhi, Satyanarayan and Mohd Shahjahan did not disclose their preference.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election rally at Gaya on Friday has given a boost to Mr Manjhi chance in the polls.

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