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Jokihat bypoll a test of mettle for ruling NDA

If RJD is able to wrest the seat from the ruling alliance, it will increase their strength to 81 in the Assembly while that of JD(U)’s will come down to 70 in 243-member House

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The bypoll is a prestige issue for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
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The May 28 Jokihat assembly by-election will prove to be a test of mettle for the Janata Dal (United), which held the seat till the party MLA switched over to the Opposition to contest Lok Sabha bypolls in March, and the ruling party is leaving no stone unturned to retain the seat.

The by-election was necessitated after sitting MLA Md Sarfaraz Alam quit the JD(U) and sided with the RJD to contest the Araria parliamentary seat, which fell vacant after the death of his father and RJD MP Md Taslimuddin.

The region is believed to be a stronghold of Taslimuddin's family, which has held the seat more than half a dozen times, and with the RJD fielding the late MP's younger son Shahnawaz, it will be an acid test for the ruling alliance to retain the seat. In the JD(U)'s favour is the fact that it won the minority-dominated seat in 2010 and 2015 polls, making it a closely contested by-election.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) has fielded Md Murshid Alam, an ex-Mukhiya who joined the party a few years ago.

Several senior NDA leaders including former Bihar Congress chief Ashok Choudhary who recently joined the JD(U), are camping in the area to galvanize their voters. CM Nitish will also hold public meetings on Thursday to seek votes in favour of Murshid.

However, the RJD is banking not just on Taslimuddin's popularity but also on their candidate's "clean image" as opposed to the JD (U) nominee who is accused in as many as seven cases including those involving fraud, rape and murder.

"If the recent Araria Lok Sabha bypoll is anything to go by, in which our party had polled maximum votes in the Jokihat assembly segment, the tables are expected to turn in our favour," an RJD leader told DNA.

If the RJD is able to wrest the seat from the ruling alliance, it will increase their strength to 81 in the House while that of JD(U)'s will come down to 70 in the 243-member Assembly. The results will be known on May 31.

FLEXING MUSCLE

If RJD is able to wrest the seat from the ruling alliance, it will increase their strength to 81 in the Assembly while that of JD(U)’s will come down to 70 in 243-member House.

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