Begusarai was the place to be and the contest to watch in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, at least until a few days ago. Former JNU student union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who made headlines when he was charged with sedition, was the beacon of hope and harbinger of change for the liberals and the secularists.
The national media thrived on covering the election in what is also known as the Leningrad of Bihar. The Communist Party of India candidate was up against outspoken BJP leader with obvious Hindutva leanings, Giriraj Singh. It was an eyeball-grabbing contest, one that would fetch readership and viewership. Kanhaiya was seen by many as fighting for progressive and righteousness forces against an obscurantist and dictatorial regime.
Hordes of Left-leaning students, ex-students from JNU and other parts of country, self-proclaimed secularists and liberalists, celebrities of all hues — writers, producer and actors from Bollywood — descended on Begusarai as if driven by a call of duty to campaign for campaign for Kanhaiya. He was their 'aazadi' hero. They were not just driven by hope, but were also guided by a misplaced belief that the former student leader would vanquish Singh.
For vast masses of liberals and secularists, Kanhaiya's political ambitions and entry into electoral politics symbolised the fight between good and evil. But in their misplaced optimism, the celebrities and the card-holders forgot that a parliamentary election is a different ballgame when compared with student union polls in the Left-leaning university.
They also undermined and also choose to ignore the presence of Rashtriya Janata Dal's Tanweer Hassan, who was the Mahagathbandhan candidate. Both Singh and Hassan are grassroots leaders. Those who understood the dynamics of Begusarai knew the fight would be between Singh and Hassan and Kanhaiya would get some respectable votes, but would finish a distant third.
And they were right. Trends at 11.30am showed that Singh had established a clear lead that should see him home. Hassan was in second place and Kanhaiya was struggling in third place.
Kanhaiya's fate is representative of the misplaced political belief and outdated ideology that the Left is still trying to propagate. The Leftists have been almost wiped out, even in the three states — Tripura, West Bengal and Kerala — that were once their bastions.
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Updated Date: May 23, 2019 12:02:57 IST