Will Kanhaiya Kumar's induction into Congress lead to 'cold war' with Tejashwi in Bihar? 

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Will the entry of firebrand youth leader Kanhaiya Kumar into the Congress emerge as a threat to the growing influence of the RJD’s chief ministerial face Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar? Will Kumar challenge Tejashwi’s political hegemony within the Mahagathbandhan? Or has he been brought in to rescue the Congress from being eclipsed by a regional party like the RJD, reportedly on the suggestion of political strategist Prashant Kishor? 

Whatever be the reason, Kanhaiya’s induction into the Congress has caused ripples within the RJD and the political corridors of Bihar. 

Kanhaiya was fielded by the CPI, an ally of the Mahagathbandhan, in the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Begusarai against the RJD’s Tanveer Hussain. Despite his fiery campaign speeches against the ruling dispensation, Kanhaiya had lost to BJP candidate Giriraj Singh by over 4,22,000 votes from a constituency that is still considered as a citadel of the Left. 

“There is no comparison between Tejashwi Yadav and Kanhaiya Kumar. Yadav is a leader who has never been in controversies like Kanhaiya Kumar for his ‘anti-national’ comments. Why should we take him seriously when we have a leader like Tejashwi Yadav who has aspirations for the state and its people,” said a senior RJD leader requesting anonymity. 

Another senior leader of the RJD Bhai Virendra Kumar refused to recognise Kanhaiya Kumar the day he joined the Congress. 

Senior Congress leader Madan Mohan Jha, meanwhile, said that Kanhaiya’s induction into the Grand Old Party will certainly give an edge to state politics.   Experts believe that the induction could lead to a low-key ‘cold war’ between the two young leaders. There will be friction of sorts in the coming days as both Kumar and Yadav are articulate crowd-pullers who will work towards taking their parties ahead of each other. While Tejashwi is known to have a pull over the Yadav and Muslim vote banks, the former JNUSU president has gained people’s trust not just in Bihar but also in other parts of the country. He is well educated, known for his oratorical skills and attacks his political opponents with logic and charisma. On the other hand, Tejashwi also speaks well and pulls massive crowds each time he addresses a public meeting. 

However, when it comes to leadership, Tejashwi Yadav is more experienced as seen in the last assembly and Lok Sabha elections where he led the party in the absence of his father Lalu Prasad, a political veteran. Kanhaiya, on the contrary, has never led a political party independently except taking to canvassing in Begusarai during the Lok Sabha elections. His electioneering has made news for a variety of reasons, especially on occasions when he targets PM Modi and his policies. 

“In such a situation, Kanhaiya’s entry into the Congress and his possible role within the party in Bihar might be making RJD uncomfortable now,” said Arun Kumar, a political analyst in Patna.

Recently, RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari told the media that Kanhaiya Kumar has never been an issue for the party.

Dr. RK Verma, another political analyst, said that if the Congress assigns any role to Kanhaiya Kumar in the party for Bihar, he will have a direct impact on Tejashwi Yadav’s political hegemony within the Mahagathbandhan. “This is because Kanhaiya Kumar is also a well-heard young leader and will naturally project the policies of the Congress in an argumentative and logical way,” he opined.

According to sources in political circles, the RJD had fielded its candidate to make the contest a triangular one. This move boomeranged and indirectly helped BJP’s Giriraj Singh to win the seat.”Had Kanhaiya Kumar won Begusarai on the basis of his popularity and national identity which he gained after the JNU controversy, he would have certainly played down the political leverage of Tejashwi Yadav. So the RJD played a trick to field its candidate and prevented Kanhaiya from reaching Parliament,” said a political observer.