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Red flag flies high in Bihar polls, CPI(ML) wins 9 seats

With a win in nine seats and leads in three others, the CPI(ML) on Tuesday is all set for an impressive performance in the Bihar Assembly elections.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), often working in the margins of mainstream politics, has fielded 19 candidates, most of them students and youth leaders, in the elections.

According to the latest trends, CPI(ML) has won nine of the 19 seats and is leading in three seats. CPI(M) which competed on four seats has won two seats, and the CPI which contested in six seats has won one seat and leading in two others.

With the win in nine seats and leads in three others, the CPI(ML) hopes to be the biggest gainer in the Grand Alliance.

In the 2015 assembly election, the CPI(ML) had bagged three seats. It had won seven seats in the 2005 polls. The party secured six seats in the 2000 election and in 2010, it had failed to get any seat.

“The leads so far are on expected lines and we hope to catch up in three more seats. This was a different kind of election. This was more a people’s movement. We banked on young candidates like student leaders, candidates who were part of farmer struggles and working class people. That seemed to have worked,” CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said.

Party leaders also highlighted how cadres worked among the poor, became first responders in crisis among their constituents and led movements against unemployment, corruption in education and farm rights, to gain the trust of voters.

“We have been working with the poor in the state since the 1990s, mainly with the Dalits and the EBCs. We have played the lonely vocal opposition voice in the Vidhan Sabha on the rights of the poor. Over the last five years, we have built an image which is based on goodwill and faith. Electoral victories are not just about numbers, it is about chemistry. This time things came together.

“This election, wherever the RJD and CPI(ML) have come together, the Grand Alliance has done well,” N Balaji, the national president of CPI(ML) students” wing All India Students Association said.

On his party’s decision to go with the RJD despite being opposed to it earlier, Balaji, who campaigned extensively in Bihar, said the party (RJD) currently led by Tejashwi Yadav and the one led by his father Lalu Prasad were “two different entities”.

CPI(ML) leaders also pointed out that this was perhaps the first time that the youth and student leaders had actively participated and some even contested the elections.

Out of the 19 candidates that the party fielded this time, six are under 35 years of age and 10 are below 50.

Among the party’s winning candidates, Sandeep Saurav, 33, won from Paliganj constituency after defeating the JD(U) candidate. Saurav, a former JNUSU general secretary and an AISA activist, gave up his job as an assistant professor to fight the polls.

CPI-ML’s other candidate Manoj Manzil, 36, won by over 50,000 votes from Agiaon. He was earlier arrested after filing his nomination from the constituency.

Manzil is known for leading the ‘Sadak Par School’ movement in Bhojpur against unemployment. He is also a prominent leader among the Dalit community.

Ajit Kumar Singh (34), who won the Dumraon seat, is the state president of Revolutionary Youth Association. He is a former AISA Bihar state secretary and has completed his doctoral studies in history of farmers’ agitation in Bihar.

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