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Kanhaiya Kumar is CPI candidate from Begusarai after being left out of coalition

Kanhaiya Kumar, the former president of the JNU students' union, has been chosen as the CPI's candidate from Bihar's Begusarai for the national election. This will be the firebrand student leader's entry into the electoral politics.

The decision was taken by the Left on Saturday, a day after Mr Kumar was left out of the opposition coalition in Bihar. He will be joint candidate of the Left parties from Begusarai.

Kanhaiya Kumar was widely expected to be the opposition's candidate from Begusarai. However, no seats were given to the CPI and CPI-M, making it clear that Mr Kumar will not be supported by the mahagathbandhan or grand alliance. The seat fell into Tejashwi Yadav's RJD's share.

Left parties in Bihar slammed the opposition for excluding them in the seat-sharing formula, saying the decision was not in sync with the ground realities in the state.

A significant reason why Kanhaiya Kumar was left out of the opposition coalition is that Begusarai - called the Leningrad of Bihar as it is the Ground Zero of Left politics in the state - is considered safe for a Muslim candidate. The RJD plans to field Tanvir Hasan, who lost in 2014 by a margin of 60,000 votes. In 2009, Janata Dal United candidate Monazir Hasan won this seat.

The RJD's decision to stick to this seat was also prompted by the fact that party was apprehensive that if it backs Kanhaiya Kumar, then Chief Minister Nitish Kumar might take him in his party.

RJD sources believe Kanhaiya Kumar has less chances of standing up to the BJP's candidate Giriraj Singh, a Union Minister known for his controversial pronouncements. Kanhaiya's Bhumihar caste, say the sources, may be more inclined to back Giriraj Singh.

The national election will be held from April 11 to May 19 in seven rounds. Bihar, which has 40 Lok Sabha seats, will vote in seven phases - April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12, and May 19. The results will be declared on May 23.