Patna: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday fielded party heavyweight and federal Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad to take on the rebel parliamentarian Shatrughan Sinha in the prestigious battle for Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat in Bihar. Sinha has been winning this seat on his personal charisma since 2009 and thus it has become a matter of prestige for the BJP to retain the seat at all cost.

Sinha, a Bollywood actor-turned-politician, has himself opted out of the BJP after a long-drawn battle with the party leadership during which he launched blistering attacks on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi but the party never dared to act against him — such is his popularity. Though he has not joined any party, he has declared to contest elections from the same seat. “Whatever be the situation, location will be the same,” Sinha has declared, turning the contest quite interesting this time. Sinha has got offers to join both the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) although he hasn’t cleared the confusion yet. Anyway, he will be the Grand Alliance candidate.

Now, the BJP wants to wrest this seat from Sinha at any cost. Initially, the BJP leadership was debating about two names — RK Sinha and Ravi Shankar Prasad, both Rajya Sabha members who never contested the Lok Sabha elections in the past — to field against the actor-politician. After much calculation, the party eventually settled for Prasad but this has caused a fresh problem for the BJP candidate as this left the upper caste Kayastha community much annoyed. The community people wanted a ticket for RK Sinha for this seat. Incidentally, all these three candidates belong to the same Kayashtha community.

Last week, a meeting of the All India Kayashtha Community held in Patna had expressed solidarity with RK Sinha. “He (Sinha) is the best candidate for the Patna Sahib seat and if he was not given the ticket, the party is bound to face serious consequences,” community’s national president Ravinandan Sahay had warned. According to him, the six-year Rajya Sabha’s tenure of Prasad expires in 2024 and if he is elected to the Lok Sabha, he will have to resign from the Upper House which means a waste of a representation by this community.

Prasad, however, has thanked the party leadership for expressing faith in his leadership and giving the party ticket. “Patna is my city, I was born there, studied there, became a lawyer. Even though I had been working on a national level, I have a deep bonding with the city,” Prasad told a TV news channel on Saturday. Further, he expressed his gratefulness for the party, the Prime Minister and the party chief.