Aurangabad (Bihar), April 10: Former Delhi Police chief Nikhil Kumar, who quit as Kerala governor last month, is in the poll fray in Bihar's Aurangabad constituency where he is facing an uphill task.
Kumar is contesting on a Congress ticket and he is facing a big challenge from his traditional rival Sushil Kumar Singh of the BJP, who defeated him last time when he was a JD-U candidate. This time he has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after being expelled from JD-U.
Both Nikhil Kumar and Sushil Kumar are Rajput, a powerful upper caste who have dominated politics in this drought prone district.
Nikhil Kumar was elected to parliament from Aurangabad for the first time in 2004 when Congress contested polls in alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan.
Aurangabad voted Thursday.
In 2009, Nikhil was defeated when Congress contested without RJD and LJP. He forfeited his deposit when the Congress fought alone.
His main contestant Sushil Kumar is confident of an overwhelming support of his castemen and tilt of other upper castes, backward castes in favour of BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Sushil's major stumbling block is Aurangabad's BJP legislator Ramadhar Singh, who has vowed to ensure his defeat.
He has played the caste card by projecting himself as a representative of BJP president Rajnath Singh, a Rajput of neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.
Suraj Singh, a resident of Madanpur, said that Aurangabad has the rare distinction of sending only Rajputs to parliament ever since the first general elections in 1952.
"Even this time main fight is between two Rajputs...," he said.
The ruling JD-U has fielded Bagi Prasad Verma, a backward caste leader as its nominee.
Verma, who belongs to agrarian Koeri caste, is eyeing the support extreme backward castes, Mahadalits, poor among Dalits and Muslims. He is trying to make it a three-cornered fight.
"...he can emerge as a dark horse," Mahender Prasad Singh, a JD-U supporter in Amba said.
Salam Ansari, a shop keeper in Nabinagar, said Rajputs have a sizeable presence followed by Yadav.
"If a chunk of Rajputs and Yadav, Muslims vote for Nikhil Kumar, he will have an edge over BJP's Sushil," he said.