Araria Lok Sabha constituency: Caste equations to hold the key in 2019 poll

In the byelections held in March 2018, RJD's Sarfaraz Alam won from Araria Lok Sabha constituency defeating BJP's Pradeep Kumar Singh by 61988 votes.

Araria Lok Sabha constituency: Caste equations to hold the key in 2019 poll

Araria Lok Sabha constituency is one of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar. Rashtriya Janata Dal's (RJD) Mohammed Taslimuddin had won the seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha election defeating Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Pradeep Kumar Singh by a margin of over 1 lakh and 46 thousand votes. However, byelections to the seat were necessitated after the death of the RJD leader on 17 September 2017.

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In the byelections held in March 2018, RJD's Sarfaraz Alam won the seat defeating BJP's Pradeep Kumar Singh by 61988 votes. Seven candidates were in the fray for the elections in the byelections for which a voter turnout of 57 per cent was registered. Alam is the son of the former Araria MP Mohammad Taslimuddin, whose death had necessitated the bypoll.

Of the 40 seats in Bihar, 34 are unreserved seats and 6 are reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. Araria Lok Sabha constituency comprises of six assembly segments namely - Narpatganj, Raniganj (SC), Forbesganj, Araria, Jokhihat and Sikti. Muslims account for 41 per cent of the electorate in the Araria parliamentary constituency. Yadavs also hold the key in the area.

Araria is crucial for the National Democratic Alliance as the seat was won by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in both 2004 and 2009 elections before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar opted out of the alliance. However, when Nitish broke away from the NDA, Taslimuddin took away the seat from the clutches of the BJP in the 2014 elections. Though Nitish joined hands with the BJP before the 2018 bypoll, the RJD managed to keep its hold on the seat intact.

For the 2019 Lok Sabha election in Bihar, the BJP, JDU will contest on 17 seats each while the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will be contesting on six seats. NDA will also nominate LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan to the Rajya Sabha.

On the other hand, the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), the Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAM-S) led by former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and the Vikasshil Insan Party (VIP) have joined hands for the "Mahagatbandhan" in Bihar.    

Bihar witnessed an overall turnout of 56.28 per cent in the 2014 polls of which 57.66 per cent were female voters and 55.08 per cent were male voters. In Araria, 61.47 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the 2014 election.