Bihar polls: Congress says alliance is with JD(U), not RJD

  • Anirban Guha Roy, Hindustan Times, Patna
  • Updated: Sep 27, 2015 21:49 IST
Congress president Sonia Gandhi with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad during the Swabhiman rally at Gandhi Maidan, in Patna. (Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)

Frustrated over the seat adjustment stalemate and suggestion in RJD quarters that Congress could share upto 22 of its own seats with grand alliance, the Congress hit back hard on Tuesday, saying it had nothing to do with the RJD.

"We have nothing to with the RJD. Our alliance is with the JD(U). Seat adjustment talks should be concluded at the earliest," senior Congress leader Sadanand Singh said.

The statement came following a suggestion in alliance quarters that RJD and JD(U) share 22 of seats allocated to Congress as a compromise formula for their own inability to arrive at seat adjustments in 37 constituencies, which they both claim. The statement left RJD top brass red faced.

Reliable sources said Singh's statement was an indirect attempt to put pressure on chief minister Nitish Kumar to finalise seat adjustments as the lead player in the three party alliance by getting the approval of the RJD for 140 seats -- 100 of JD(U) and 40 of Congress.

Sources said, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had played the arbiter by pushing the "sitting seat" formula under which each of the allies would have retained their sitting seats and would barter rest of the seats as per winnability factor.

However, after SP chief's disassociation from the Janata bloc in Bihar, RJD and JD(U) deviated from the old formula in a bid to encroach on each other's turf with their own logic to caste arithmetic and winnability.

"RJD wants to have a sizeable number of JD(U) sitting seats since it feels it has a larger social base. JD(U) does not want to give its sitting seats, fearing it would annoy sitting MLAs and trigger mass exodus to opposition BJP. In this tug of war for sitting seats, Congress has started facing some real problem," said a senior JD(U) leader.

Congress sources said, the party had so far got clearance on 18 seats while a decision is pending on the rest of 22 seats. "We are closely watching the situation and will act accordingly," said a senior Congress leader.

The seats where RJD and JD(U) have common claims include Raghopur (a JD(U) sitting seat, which Lalu's younger son Tejhaswi is keen to contest, Hassanpur, Morwa, Pirpainti, Raxaul, Sugauli and few other seats in central Bihar.)

RJD is also eyeing JD(U)'s sitting seats like Kurhani, Paru and Kurtha whereas JD(U) has staked claim to few RJD's sitting seats.

"In almost all 38 districts, there are differences over one or two seats, including Darbhanga rural and Keoti (both held by RJD) due to the tussle between RJD's two heavyweights M Fatmi and Lalit Yadav," said a RJD source, adding that candidates for both the seats have not been decided yet.

However, top leaders of the JD(U) and RJD maintained that seat to seat identification process in all 38 districts was in its final stages, adding that "minor glitches" would be removed soon.

"The seat adjustments would be finalised soon," said JD(U) state president Bashishtha Narayan Singh. There is speculation that the alliance could announce seats and candidates for the first phase in the next couple of days in case unanimity over final seat adjustment remains elusive.

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