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Kishanganj (Bihar): Just 10 days before voting the Janata Dal United received a huge blow when its Kishanganj candidate Akhtarul Iman withdrew from the poll race saying his aim was to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party for which Muslim votes should be united and in favour of Congress candidate and sitting MP Mohammad Asrarul Haque. Kishanganj is a Muslim dominated seat in the Northeatern Bihar and Haque had won in 2009 defeating JDU's Syed Mahmood Ashraf by 80,269 votes. Iman, the MLA from Kochadhaman Assembly seat in Kishanganj, had quit the Rashtriya Janata Dal just a few weeks back and joined the JDU. He was rewarded by Nitish Kumar with the Lok Sabha ticket from Kishanganj but his withdrawal has now come as a huge blow to the Bihar Chief Minister although he said that he would remain in the JDU. With no JDU candidate in the fray as the last date of nomination was April 9, the contest is between Haque and BJP's Dilip Kumar Jayaswal. The seat will vote on April 24 along with Supaul, Araria, Katihar, Purnea, Bhagalpur and Banka. BJP had put up Jayaswal hoping for a spilt in the Muslim votes but with Imam's withdrawal, the party faces an uphill task. Iman said he tried to contact the Chief Minister to acquaint him with his decision to withdraw from the race, but could not get through him. "I have acquainted JDU leaders in Kishanganj about the decision. My purpose to enter the field was to defeat communal forces represented by Narendra Modi. I decided to withdraw from the race to strengthen the secular forces," he said. Sources in Kishanganj attributed the withdrawal to lack of support he was getting from Nitish Kumar.

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