Citing the overwhelming support its candidate for Begusarai, Kanhaiya Kumar, was getting, the CPI on Wednesday asked RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav to retire its party nominee from the seat to make it a direct contest with BJP.
Addressing a press conference, CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy urged Yadav to retire RJD candidate Tanveer Hassan as the last date of withdrawal of nominations for Begusarai seat had elapsed. Begusarai goes to polls in the fourth phase on April 29.
"I would urge Tejashwi Yadav to consider our appeal that Hassan retires from the contest. He can do this much to help Kanhaiya get a decisive victory since the last date of withdrawal of nominations has elapsed," Reddy said.
Top Left leaders Sitaram Yechury, D Raja and Sudhakar Reddy along with veteran Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar have already campaigned for Kanhaiya, besides Bollywood stars like Prakash Raj and Swara Bhaskar.
Speculations were rife that RJD supremo Lalu Prasad had initially thought in terms of backing Kanhaiya, a former JNU students’ union president. But, later he retracted at the instance of Tejashwi, who said Kumar belonged to the Bhumihar caste and supporting him might anger the RJD’s vote base — Yadavs and Muslims.
In private, CPI leaders say that Tejaswi Yadav held out against backing Kanhaiya as he doesn't want another youth leader to emerge from Bihar.
Reddy said it was unfortunate that the CPI could not be a part of the Grand Alliance in Bihar. "The CPI is committed to the formation of a non-NDA government at the Centre, which the Left parties could influence in terms of policy formulation. We decided to field our candidates in only a handful of seats and support the Grand Alliance in the remaining ones," he said.
The CPI general secretary further said the party decided to field Kanhaiya since he belonged to the district and the area had a strong legacy of the Left movement.
"We have no problems with Hassan. Our fight is not against him. There is definitely a buzz around Kanhaiya. It is not for nothing that leaders from other parties like CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury and Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav are campaigning for him," Reddy added.