The ruling JD-U and RJD will contest in 100 seats in the Bihar assembly polls and the Congress will fight for 40, the three parties announced on Wednesday, formally unveiling an anti-BJP grand alliance in the poll-bound state.
The launch of the ‘maha gathbandhan’ came after several rounds of talks between chief minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, besides Congress leaders, all coming together to stop the saffron party from repeating its Lok Sabha show last year when it had won 31 out of the 44 seats.
Assembly polls in the state are likely to be held in October-November this year.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar announced the alliance in presence of RJD president Lalu Prasad and Congress general secretary and in-charge of Bihar affairs CP Joshi at a joint press conference.
In the 243-member Bihar assembly, the alliance was yet to announce who would contest in the rest three seats though Kumar said that they would be given to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) if Sharad Pawar joins the alliance.
Read: Bihar assembly elections likely from mid-Oct
In reply to a question that Samajwadi Party, whose leader Mulayam Singh Yadav is heading Janata Parivar, had not got any seat, Prasad answered “he is my samdhi (relative) and if need be I will accommodate him.”
The RJD president indicated that the decision to fight on 100 seats only was a compromise for a cause.
“Inspite of all difference his party has come to the conclusion that to keep the communal and fascist forces away, it has to move ahead by accommodating others,” Prasad told reporters.
Lalu Prasad said the first rally of the grand secular alliance would be held in Patna on August 30, which is billed as a show of Bihari pride against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s barb at Nitish Kumar recently.
Addressing a public meeting in Muzaffarpur on July 25, Modi had said: “There seems to be some problem in his (Nitish Kumar) DNA because the DNA of democracy is not like that. In democracy, you give respect even to your political rivals.”
The BJP was a partner in Kumar’s coalition government in Bihar till the JD-U severed ties with its saffron ally on June 16 last year over Modi’s elevation in the BJP to a slot that made him the most likely candidate for the PM’s post. Modi was named as the party’s prime ministerial candidate a few weeks later.
The high point of interaction during Wednesday’s press briefing was the bonhomie between Lalu and Nitish, who have long shied from staging stage together.
“Everybody doubted whether we will join hands or not and then whether I would accept Nitish as CM. Now, see, we are all one,” Lalu said.
(With agency inputs)