Former RJD leaders may join Congress, cracks appear in Grand Alliance

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has conveyed its displeasure over the possible induction of three leaders into the Congress in Bihar amid tensions between the two parties over seat-sharing in the state ahead of the national polls this summer, according to people aware of the developments.

An RJD leader said his party is anguished over reports that the Congress is likely to admit Pappu Yadav, Lovely Anand, and Anant Singh and field them as Lok Sabha candidates.

“We have conveyed our displeasure about these tainted people to [the] Congress…,” he said.

The RJD has conveyed its displeasure over the possible induction amid demands from state Congress leaders like Shyam Sunder Singh Dheeraj for an equal distribution of Lok Sabha seats among the two alliance partners.

Bihar has the most – 40 – Lok Sabha seats after Uttar Pradesh (80), Maharashtra (48), West Bengal (42) and is key to the Opposition’s attempts to remove the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from to power at the Centre. The BJP had swept to power in 2014 on the back of its performance in its western and northern Indian strongholds like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where it won 22 of the 40 seats.

The Congress is sensing a revival in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh after its return to power in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in December. The victories have given the Congress enough confidence to seek more seats from its allies like the RJD.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) left the Congress out of their alliance they announced in Uttar Pradesh this month. In Bihar, the RJD is also unwilling to give in to the Congress’s demand for more seats, according to the people aware of the developments.

A Bihar Congress functionary said RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s meeting with BSP chief Mayawati and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav this month should also be seen in context of the rising tensions between the allies. “He endorsed the SP-BSP alliance only to convey the message that the Congress should not expect too many seats in Bihar,” he said on condition of anonymity.

The tensions prompted Congress’s Bihar in-charge, Shaktisinh Gohil, to meet Tejashwi Yadav Monday to iron out the differences between the two.

Gohil dismissed suggestions of any rift with the RJD and insisted the Congress will take a call on three after consulting RJD. “There are certain principles in any alliance. We will discuss with our partner and only then we will take a final call. Whenever and for whoever we have to take a call, we will take the appropriate decision at the appropriate time after consulting and coordinating with our alliance partner,” he said.

Gohil insisted there is a “very good understanding” among all the Grand Alliance constituents. “There are no problems in the alliance. We will contest all the 40 seats in the alliance. Our priority is to ensure that mahagathbandhan [Grand Alliance] candidates win maximum Lok Sabha seats in Bihar,” he said.

The Grand Alliance constituents are expected to discuss a seat-sharing formula in Bihar after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s February 3 rally in Patna. The rally is being billed as a show of strength.

It is the first such public meeting the Congress is organising in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan in decades.

First Published: Jan 23, 2019 07:32 IST

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