BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain
and Bihar minister Mukesh Sahani on Monday filed their nomination papers for by-elections to two seats of the state legislative council.
Hussain, one of the party's national spokespersons, and Sahani, who heads NDA constituent Vikassheel Insaan Party, were accompanied by a host of leaders of the ruling coalition including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy CMs Tarkishor Prasad and Renu Devi, and state BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal.
Polling is scheduled for January 28 though with no other candidate in the fray, the duo is likely to be declared elected unopposed on January 21, which is the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers.
While Hussain has filed nomination for the seat vacated by former Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, now a Rajya Sabha member, Sahani is seeking election from the berth vacated by former minister Binod Narayan Jha, who has been elected to the assembly.
When asked by journalists about the probability of his induction in the state cabinet headed by Nitish Kumar, Hussain quipped, "I have to work with him in any case. He is heading the NDA team in Bihar. I have worked with him in the past. I was Union Minister of State for Food Processing and the department was later merged with agriculture which he was handling back then."
Kumar, who stood beside Hussain during the interaction with the media, laughed heartily.
Hussain also said "it is wrong to say that I have returned to state politics. There is no question of returning since I never left Bihar. Even when I had ceased to be an MP, I stayed very much here".
Hussain had made his electoral debut in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls when, at a young age of 31, he caught attention by virtue of wresting Kishanganj seat from RJD's Mohd
Taslimuddin enjoyed tremendous popularity in the area and was known for using strong-arm tactics in politics.
The feat earned Hussain a berth in the Union council of ministers though he lost the seat to Talimuddin in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls which also saw the BJP-led NDA lose power at the Centre.
Two years later, he was back as the MP from Bhagalpur which was vacated by Sushil Kumar Modi who became the Deputy CM in 2005. Hussain retained Bhagalpur in 2009 but lost it five years later and the seat went to the JD(U) in the subsequent general election.
Modi, whom Hussain had succeeded as the Bhagalpur MP and will likely do so again in the legislative council, said about the development "I welcome Syed Shahnawaz Hussain's entry into the state legislature. His greater involvement here will strengthen the party, especially in the Seemanchal region".
Seemanchal comprises densely-populated, Muslim- dominated districts like Kishanganj, Araria and Katihar in the state's north-east. The BJP has sought to make serious inroads in the area with emphasis on issues like illegal immigration from Bangladesh.
The area lies in the vicinity of West Bengal where the BJP has high stakes in the assembly polls in a few months.
Politics in Seemanchal has of late got highly polarised with Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM making an entry and winning five seats in the assembly polls held recently.
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