Though muzzled in the BJP, which is unlikely to field him in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the party’s MP from Patna Sahib, Shatrughan Sinha, is unlikely to go anywhere. The two-term Lok Sabha MP from Patna Sahib has also hinted, in his recent media interactions, about once again contesting from his traditional seat.
If recent political activities are any indications, the actor-turned-politician is likely to be backed by Lalu Prasad’s RJD in next year’s Lok Sabha elections. The RJD may offer Sinha a ticket or even back him as an independent or a Congress candidate for the Patna Sahib seat.
Not that the BJP is oblivious of these developments. Top leaders in Bihar admit that the party has already started considering a few names for the constituency. The BJP does have few options to take on the mighty Shatrughan Sinha. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, a Kayastha by caste, a community which is said to have considerable presence in this seat, would have been a natural choice.
But after Prasad’s re-nomination to the Rajya Sabha in April 2018, it is highly unlikely for Team Modi to field him in the Lok Sabha elections only a year later.
Though there has been no consensus reached as yet, the BJP leadership is gradually zeroing in on Rituraj Sinha, 38, as a possible party candidate to take on Shatrughan Sinha at Patna Sahib. BJP Rajya Sabha member RK Sinha’s son, Rituraj, who deftly handled the party’s IT campaign during 2014 Lok Sabha and 2015 Assembly elections in Bihar, has been picked as the secretary in the BJP Bihar unit.
An alumnus of Leeds University Business School, Rituraj is a man of multiple talents. Being the son of a billionaire MP and having launched a successful IPO of his firm SIS last year, Rituraj is seen as an extremely down-to-earth person with great connect with BJP workers in Bihar. That his father, RK Sinha, is extremely popular in Patna, combined with his organisational abilities, also bolsters his chances to bag a BJP ticket for Patna.
Before delimitation in 2009, Patna’s populace was half-urban, half-rural. The city during those days alternatively elected BJP’s CP Thakur and RJD’s Ram Kripal Yadav to the Lok Sabha. After delimitation, Patna has become a predominantly urban seat with a 28 per cent upper caste population — the highest in the state.
The BJP may ultimately have to pick a Kayastha for Patna Sahib because if it does not, Shatrughan Sinha will try every skill that he has to attract votes of his castemen. To top it all, if Lalu Prasad backs him in the Lok Sabha polls, the actor-turned-politician will have a formidable vote-bank of Muslims and Yadavs to support him too.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, despite the Modi wave sweeping the country then, Congress Patna Sahib candidate Kunal Singh, who was backed by RJD, had bagged 2.20 lakh votes. Kunal’s vote tally was more than twice of JD(U) candidate Gopal Prasad Sinha, who had garnered little more than 91,000 votes. Shatrughan Sinha had then romped home with 4.85 lakh votes.
Patna Sahib will be no less than a prestige fight for both the BJP and Shatrughan Sinha in 2019. And it will be easier said than done for both.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)