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India

Nitish Kumar May Contest From UP In Bid To Challenge PM Modi In 2024

According to sources, Nitish Kumar can contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections from any one of these seats -- Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Mirzapur, Kaushambi or Prayagraj.

Nitish Kumar
A banner of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav indicating their alliance for 2024 parliamentary elections, outside SP headquarters in Lucknow, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has openly declared a war on BJP, is reportedly planning to contest elections from BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Kumar had recently met Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav along with party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav in Delhi to discuss Opposition unity and the way forward.

Sources said Nitish Kumar shared this idea with Akhilesh in the meeting and received a positive response from the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister. According to the information, Kumar is looking to contest from two seats this time — one from Bihar and the other seat from UP.

Uttar Pradesh with 80 seats and Bihar with 40 together send 120 MPs to Lok Sabha and the party or the alliance that performs better in these two states is often in a good position to form a government at the Centre.

Why Uttar Pradesh

Nitish Kumar comes from the Kurmi community, which accounts for 6 per cent of the population in UP and close to 35 per cent in the OBC category. Union Minister and Apna Dal (S) leader Anupriya Patel is one of the biggest Kurmi leaders. Apna Dal (S) is in alliance with BJP.

In face of Patel’s influence, the opposition does not get the support of this community. Nitish Kumar’s candidature from UP might help deviate BJP’s votes from the community. Further, a large section of non-Yadav voters of the OBC community can also support him. If this happens then BJP will be in big trouble.

There are 8 to 10 Lok Sabha seats in UP where the Kurmi community plays a decisive role. Members of the caste are found in large numbers in Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Mirzapur, Sonbhadra, Bareilly, Unnao, Jalaun, Fatehpur, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Prayagraj, Sitapur, Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur, Siddharth Nagar, Basti and Barabanki, Kanpur, Akbarpur, Etah, Bareilly and Lakhimpur districts.

According to sources, Nitish Kumar can contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections from any one of these seats — Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Mirzapur, Kaushambi or Prayagraj.

BJP’s state unit president Swatantra Dev Singh, who led the party to a huge win for the second time in UP, comes from the Kurmi community. At present, Kurmi community has 34 MLAs, out of which 26 are of BJP, 4 each from Apna Dal (S), SP and BSP. Apart from this, there are a total of 8 MPs, including 6 BJP, one BSP and one Apna Dal (S).

‘UP + Bihar To Oust BJP Sarkar’

Days after the JD(U) leader met the father-son duo as part of his efforts to unite Opposition parties, a poster emerged at the SP office saying, “UP + Bihar = Gayi Modi Sarkar (If Uttar Pradesh and Bihar join hands, the Modi government will be ousted.” The banner had photos of Kumar and Akhilesh Yadav waving at the public not seen in the poster.

There are only two coloured elements in the black and white banner — Nitish Kumar’s green scarf (angochha) and Akhilesh Yadav’s red cap — both representing their respective parties’ preferred colour choices.

SP and other opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh have welcomed Kumar dumping the BJP in Bihar and joining hands with the RJD, Congress and Left parties to form a government there.

SP spokesperson IP Singh has said the most important thing is that the Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Rashtriya Lok Dal are the forerunners of socialist ideology, and ‘netaji’ Muslyam Singh Yadav is the “patron” of all of them.

Besides Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kumar had also met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, INLD supremo OP Chautala and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

(With PTI inputs)