Have exited grand alliance in Bihar: Cong

The two allies have been locked in a war of words in the run-up to the October 30 bypolls for Kusheshwar Asthan and Tarapur assembly seats in Bihar, where both have fielded their candidates.
Congress leaders Kanhaiya Kumar, Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel being welcomed by supporters at Jaiprakash Narayan Airport in Patna. (HT PHOTO)
Congress leaders Kanhaiya Kumar, Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel being welcomed by supporters at Jaiprakash Narayan Airport in Patna. (HT PHOTO)
Published on Oct 22, 2021 09:38 PM IST
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PATNA

A senior Congress leader on Friday announced that his party has exited the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led grand alliance in Bihar and would contest all 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the 2024 parliamentary elections.

The two allies have been locked in a war of words in the run-up to the October 30 bypolls for Kusheshwar Asthan and Tarapur assembly seats in Bihar, where both have fielded their candidates.

“We are not in Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) in Bihar. A decision to this effect was taken after October 16 considering what happened at Kusheshwar Asthan, which was snatched from us. What is the use of having such an alliance? The two parties are not in sync,” Congress’s in-charge for Bihar, Bhakta Charan Das, told reporters after landing in Patna.

In the 2020 assembly elections, Congress had contested from Kusheshwar Asthan and RJD from Tarapur as part of seat-sharing deal in the grand alliance. Both seats were won by the ruling Janata Dal (United).

Das said Congress wants to contest all the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar in 2024.

Asked if Congress would review its stance if RJD approached them to continue in the alliance, Das said, “The high command will take a decision on this.”

A few days earlier, leader of opposition in the state Tejashwi Yadav, who is RJD’s de facto leader, had indicated that his party would contest all seats on its own.

The simmering tension between the two allies came to a flashpoint recently when RJD also decided to contest from Kusheshwar Asthan, a seat in Darbhanga district which has been a Congress stronghold.

Left parties, which are also part of the grand alliance in Bihar, are supporting RJD nominees for bypolls.

“We are fighting for self-respect and cannot go on being dictated by others,” said state Congress state spokesperson Anand Madhab.

State RJD president Jagdanand Singh said, “Entire Bihar knows we followed the coalition dharma and how our party chief Lalu Prasad sacrificed posts for alliance partners.”

Party spokesperson Mirtunjay Tiwary blamed Congress leaders “for this state of affairs”. “They do not know the ground reality in Bihar. And it is because of leaders like Das that Congress has reached such a sorry state,” he said.

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) took a dig at Congress and called it “a momentary threat”. “They are hurt. It is momentary but they have been humiliated by a regional party,” said BJP spokesperson Dhananjay Giri.

The JD (U) called it match fixing. “Once the by-elections are over and results are announced, they will share the dias again and claim that Tejashwi is the leader of GA. This is match fixing,” said JD (U) spokesperson Nikhil Mandal.

The opposition’s grand alliance had won 110 seats in the 243-member Bihar assembly in 2020 polls, in which RJD accounts for 75, Congress 19 and Left parties for 16.

JAP TO SUPPORT CONGRESS

Meanwhile, hours after Das met former Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav in Patna on Friday, the latter announced that his Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) would support Congress.

On Thursday, state Congress president Madan Mohan Jha had written a letter to JAP president soliciting his support.

“Congress in Bihar is fighting a battle to save the state. It is fighting the battle for farmers and labourers. For this reason, it has been decided to support Congress in the upcoming bypolls,” said Yadav.

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Saturday, December 04, 2021