Jokihat, Bihar: Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) is trailing in Bihar’s Jokihat, where the by-poll is seen as a prestige battle for the Chief Minister after his party lawmaker quit the party and joined the RJD after Mr Kumar joined hands with the BJP last year.
Nitish Kumar enlisted half his cabinet and all his political aides in this one assembly seat in east Bihar, 300 km from capital Patna. The outcome in Jokihat, many believe, will be a test of the Chief Minister’s popularity, and his political capital.
Sarfaraz Alam, who was JDU’s lawmaker in Jokihat, quit his party after the alliance with the BJP and joined the RJD. He contested the recent election from the Araria Lok Sabha seat in March and won.
The RJD has fielded Sarfaraz Alam’s younger brother, Shahnawaz Alam. JDU candidate Murshid Alam has seven criminal cases registered against him including one of gang rape. In another case, the police had allegedly recovered idols stolen from temples from his house.
Tejashwi Yadav, who is leading the RJD or Rashtriya Janata Dal in the absence of his jailed father Lalu Yadav, says Nitish Kumar’s popularity has depleted since he swapped his alliance partners after dumping the RJD and Congress.