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Kanhaiya Kumar is a politician affiliated with the Communist Party of India and a former student union leader. He unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Bihar's Begusarai constituency, often referred to as the Leningrad of Bihar.
Kanhaiya was the president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) in 2016 when a huge controversy erupted over slogans raised at an event organised on the university campus. A first information report (FIR) was lodged against several students of the university, including him. He was subsequently arrested for alleged seditious activities and granted bail later. However, a magisterial inquiry concluded that there was no video footage of him participating in the so-called 'anti-national' sloganeering that night.
Born in 1987 in Bihar's Begusarai, Kanhaiya's involvement in student politics began when he was studying at the College of Commerce in Patna. After completing his graduation in Geography, he completed a doctorate in African Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2019.
In the past few years, Kanhaiya has emerged as a prominent political activist driving the Left in several parts of the country. He has often shared the stage at political rallies with other young leaders like Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel. Kumar's autobiography, Bihar to Tihar: My Political Journey was published in October 2016. The book captures his story of childhood in rural Bihar, college days in Patna, and political coming of age in Delhi.
Kanhaiya has been known for his sharp critique of the ruling party and the Narendra Modi-led central government at several forums. He became a known name overnight after his speech at JNU upon release from jail in 2016.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he was up against Union Minister Giriraj Singh. During his campaign, Kumar raised the highest permissible election expenditure mandated by the Election Commission, Rs 70 lakh, through crowd-funding.