Final phase of LS polls in Bihar: 4 Union ministers among 159 candidates for 8 seats
Patna: Four Union ministers, a former Lok Sabha Speaker and an actor-turned-politician are among the 159 candidates left in the fray for eight Lok Sabha seats in Bihar after the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers for the seventh and final phase ended Thursday.
The final phase of the election will be held on May 19.
According to the Election Commission, a total of 227 candidates had filed their nomination papers for Patna Sahib, Patalputra, Arrah, Jehanabad, Karakat, Buxar, Sasaraam and Nalanda constituencies between April 22 and April 29. Out of which only 162 withstood scrutiny.
Of those remaining, one candidate each withdrew nomination from Patna Sahib, Pataliputra and Buxar, leaving 159 in the fray.
With 35, Nalanda has the highest number of candidates. The constituency is the home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who has represented the Lok Sabha seat a number of times.
His confidant Kaushalendra Kumar is seeking re-election for the third consecutive term.
The JD(U) MP is locked in a straight contest with Mahagathbandhan candidate Ashok Kumar Azad who has been fielded by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM).
Patna Sahib, which comprises a major part of the state capital and where 18 candidates are in the fray, will witness a clash of titans as Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad seeks to win the seat for the BJP thwarting sitting MP Shatrughan Sinha's bid to retain it for the third consecutive term but this time on a Congress ticket.
In adjoining Pataliputra, 25 candidates are in the fray, though the contest is being seen primarily between Union minister and sitting BJP MP Ram Kripal Yadav who is pitted against RJD's Misa Bharti daughter of his former mentor Lalu Prasad.
The lowest number of 11 candidates, for the phase, are in Ara where sitting BJP MP and Union minister R K Singh's bid to retain the seat has been challenged by young CPI(ML) candidate Raju Yadav whose chances have been bolstered by the Mahagathbandhan supporting his candidature.
In Buxar, another Union minister and sitting BJP MP Ashwini Kumar Choubey is facing the challenge mainly from RJD's Jagadanand Singh who had won the seat in 2009 although the total number of candidates in the fray is 15.
An equal number of candidates are in the fray in Sasaram, a reserved seat which former Lok Sabha Speaker and veteran Congress leader Meira Kumar seeks to wrest back from BJP MP Chhedi Paswan.
Karakat, which has 27 candidates, is represented by RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha who resigned from the Union council of ministers and quit the NDA in December last year before joining the Mahagathbandhan.
His principal challenger is JD(U)'s Mahabali Singh.
Jehanabad was won by RLSP's Arun Kumar in 2014. He was, however, expelled from the party later on and he is in the fray as the candidate of the parallel outfit Rashtriya Samata Party (Secular). However, the main contest is being seen as between RJD's Surendra Prasad Yadav who is the Mahagathbandhan candidate and JD(U)'s Chandreshwar Prasad who represents the NDA.