Big role for small parties in 5 seats going to polls next
Bihar's Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Saran, Hajipur and Muzaffarpur – were all won by the BJP and its allies the last time round.
Things have changed since then and the RLSP is no longer with the ruling camp. In 2014, RLSP won the Sitamarhi seat, which has gone to the RJD as part of its share in the opposition alliance. The RJD has fielded Arjun Rai, Sharad Yadav’s close aide.
Except Saran, where there is a direct fight between the leading parties, BJP and RJD, on all other seats either regional or sub-regional parties are taking on each other.
Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP), which got three seats to contest under the opposition alliance is contesting from two seats, Madhubani and Sahni to prove his mettle as Nishad community leader.
VIP is also contesting Madhubani, where it has fielded Badri Kumar Purbe against the BJP candidate Ashok Yadav, who is the son of fivetime MP Hukumdev Narayan Yadav.
Former Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed is trying to make it a triangular contest by contesting as an independent from the seat.
On NDA side, Hajipur is being contested by LJP, where veteran leader Ram Vilas Paswan is not in the fray for the first time in recent past. His brother, Pashupati Kumar Paras, is trying to protect this family bastion against Shiv Chandar Ram of the RJD. After the RLSP walked out of the NDA, Sitamrahi seat fell into the JD (U)’s share. There was considerable confusion over the candidate from this seat, which the JD (U) first allotted to Barun Kumar. But Kumar returned the ticket, and the JD (U) fielded Sunil Kumar Pintu thereafter.