Published: 23rd May 2019
LeninGrad has fallen: The 'liberal Indian' had no way of making Kanhaiya Kumar win the polls
The 32-year-old Kanhaiya Kumar seemed to have extraordinary support but with the resounding loss to BJP's Giriraj Singh, it looks like it just wasn't enough
Begusarai has only a little over two lakh people and yet this election season, Bollywood biggies, intellectuals, 'liberals' and even a comedian descended on the little town in Bihar. It was all for student unionist-turned-CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar. As the results have all but rolled in, it just wasn't enough for him to win the Lok Sabha election.
The 32-year-old former JNU President shot to fame in 2014 when he was accused of raising 'Azadi' slogans — it was around the same time that the term 'anti-Indian' was coined. After a jail stint, Kanhaiya became the face of the student protests and became the left's prodigy. So it wasn't a surprise when he chose to stand for the elections this time. After his announcement, Kanhaiya managed to raise more than Rs 32 lakh in 24 hours (and Rs 70 lakh eventually) on a crowdfunding site. People from across the country seemed to see a prospect in the young candidate with his liberal views and his great oratory skills. People also began to address him as 'LeninGrad'.
Gujarat MLA, Jignesh Mevani, Bengaluru candidate and string anti-Modi voice, Prakash Raj, Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar and comedian Kunal Kamra all went down to the town to campaign for Kanhaiya. He also had the support of a majority of the JNU students who also went down to campaign for him. Mevani's support also suggested that Kanhaiya might have the Dalit vote as well. This initially had seemed enough for him to win against BJP's 66-year-old veteran Giriraj Singh and RJD's Tanveer Hassan.
At about 3.30 pm, the young candidate had managed to secure over 2 lakh votes, while BJP's Giriraj Singh had amassed well over 6 lakh votes. Despite Kanhaiya being from the upper caste Bhumihar, it seems like most Hindu votes went to the BJP, while experts say that Dalit and Muslim votes were divided between Tanveer and Kanhaiya. Kanhaiya also found favour among the young English and Hindi speaking population but it seems like the older age groups votes went directly to the BJP like it did during the last election.
It remains to be seen what Kanhaiya, who with his sharp wit and unassuming lilt, will make of this loss and whether he chooses to continue his journey in politics. After all, as he famously said, he made such little money from book sales during his doctoral studies that the media wrote stories about it.