first_imgAfter a tough contest in the first two phases, the National Democratic Alliance appears to have a slight edge over the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in the third phase in Bihar. Of the five seats going to polls on Tuesday — Madhepura, Supaul, Araria, Khagaria and Jhanjharpur —three are currently being held by the Mahagathbandhan and two by the NDA.In Madhepura, sitting MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav has made the contest triangular by contesting on his Jan Adhikar Party (Loktantrik) symbol. In the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, Mr. Pappu Yadav had contested as an RJD candidate and defeated the Janata Dal (United)’s Sharad Yadav. However, in the changed political scenario this time, Mr. Sharad Yadav is contesting on an RJD ticket against the NDA nominee, State Disaster Management Minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav of the JD(U). Mr. Sharad Yadav, a four-time MP, hopes to get the support of the RJD’s traditional Yadav and Muslim voters. The NDA candidate is banking on a“likely division” in Yadav votes and support of sizeable numbers of “Pachpanias, a block of Extremely Backward Castes. “If Pappu Yadav makes a dent in the Yadav vote bank, the NDA candidate may win this time,” echoed several voters in Madhepura.Missing supportIn Supaul Lok Sabha constituency, sitting Congress MP and wife of Mr. Pappu Yadav, Ranjeet Ranjan, too is facing a tough challenge from her rival NDA candidate Dileshwar Kamait of the JD(U). The local RJD leaders are staying away from Ms. Ranjan’s campaign as they are not happy with Mr. Pappu Yadav contesting against Mr. Sharad Yadav. The Congress has no grassroots support in the constituency and the Yadav voters are silent. On the other hand, the NDA candidate appears to be in a comfortable position with the support of EBC voters and the buzz in favour of Mr. Modi.In Khagaria, the Mahagathbandhan candidate, Mukesh Sahni (Vikassheel Insaan Party), poses a serious challenge to the NDA nominee and sitting MP, Choudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser (Lok Janshakti Party). In the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, Mr. Kaiser had edged past his nearest rivals, Dinesh Chandra Yadav of the JD(U) and Krishna Yadav of the RJD, as there was a split among Yadav voters. This time there is no Yadav candidate in the fray and if Mr. Sahni manages to get the support of the Yadavs and a section of Muslim voters, he may tilt the result in his favour. Mr. Kaiser, meanwhile, faces anti-incumbency with the local people complaining about him not visiting the constituency after winning the poll.Development plank In Araria, the sitting Mahagathbandhan candidate Sarfaraj Alam (RJD) and NDA candidate Pradeep Kumar Singh (BJP) are locked in a direct contest. Mr. Alam is banking on party’s traditional Muslim-Yadav vote bank, while Mr. Pradeep Singh is depending on PM Modi’s charisma and Mr. Nitish Kumar’s development work. In Jhanjharpur, NDA candidate Rampreet Mandal appears to be on a strong pitch against the Mahagathbandhan candidate, Gulab Yadav (RJD), who, said the local voters, has a tainted past. Another influential leader of the area, Devendra Prasad Yadav, too, has thrown his hat in the poll ring as a Samajwadi Janata Dal (Democratic) candidate. “Both Mr. Mandal and Mr. Devendra Yadav will make a dent in the RJD’s core vote bank, making the road smooth for the NDA candidate,” echoed voters in the constituency.last_img

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