Bihar Congress asks RJD to take cue from JMM for win-win seat sharing deal

With a defiant Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) sticking to its demand for contesting 20-22 seats in the forthcoming general elections, a resurgent Congress, highly enthused by the grand success of Rahul Gandhi’s maiden rally at Gandhi Maidan on Sunday, has also raised its claim to 15 seats indicating that the two senior allies in the Grand Alliance may be heading for a showdown during the seat sharing talks expected next week.

Congress leaders on Thursday said that the RJD should follow Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), neighbouring state Jharkhand’s lead opposition party, which despite having more legislators in the state assembly (18), settled for only four parliamentary seats and handed over seven seats to the Congress for contesting the ensuing Lok Sabha polls. Congress has only six assembly seats in the Jharkhand assembly.

“Congress has resurfaced as a strong political power in the country. AICC president and prime ministerial candidate, Rahul Gandhi’s acceptability among the people of the country has increased phenomenally. The grand success of his maiden rally at the historical Gandhi Maidan, which drew more than 2 lakh people despite several trains being cancelled following the derailment of Seemanchal express in Hajipur, is testimony to his growing popularity. It would be in the larger interest of the state and the Grand Alliance (GA) that RJD makes some sacrifice and lowers its seats demand,” said AICC member and Bihar Congress general secretary, Sanjeev Singh.

Congress had made its intent public when it vouched 20-20 seat share formula in October last, suggesting that the grand-old-party would adjust some other allies from its own quota of seats but still be considered as an equal partner of the RJD. The formula did not find favour, either from the RJD quarters or other allies in the GA.

Singh, however, said for an amicable settlement, his party is proposing 15 seats each for both Congress and RJD while the remaining 10 seats may be sliced up for distribution among remaining GA partners. “There should be no hitch on this as the ruling NDA partners BJP and JD (U) have also agreed to contest equal number of seats with 17 each,” he said, adding, “Congress will no more play on the back foot. We are much stronger than before and hence it’s time we play on the front foot.”

A senior leader preferring not to be quoted said that if the RJD doesn’t relent, Congress might well go into the polls with smaller parties led by leaders like Sharad Yadav, Pappu Yadav, Upendra Kushwaha and Jitan Ram Majhi. In fact, the relations between RJD and RLSP have not been sweet. RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha joined the GA at the behest of Congress leaders and hence he is more loyal to the grand old party. RJD leaders too have maintained no-love-no-hate relationship with their RLSP counterparts.

On Saturday, RLSP chief was badly injured in a lathicharge by police in Patna and had to be hospitalized. Several GA leaders barring Tejashwi Yadav visited Kushwaha at the hospital.

First Published: Feb 08, 2019 09:58 IST

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