RJD plans to contest assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam
A Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) delegation plans to hold talks with the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Congress, and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) as it seeks to contest seven to eight assembly seats in West Bengal and 12 in Assam, people aware of the matter said.
The decision was taken after much deliberations. The RJD leadership was initially sceptical about the idea of contesting the polls due later this year. Many within the party felt the RJD should not put up candidates and rather support secular parties against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP rules Assam and emerged as the main challenger to ruling TMC in West Bengal after becoming the second-largest party in the state in the 2019 polls.
“We want an alliance with TMC as our first choice. Our primary goal is to defeat the BJP...” said an RJD leader on condition of anonymity.
The delegation led by Abdul Bari Siddiqui and Shyam Rajak will meet West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee during their stay in Kolkata from January 30 to February 2.
“ We will... talk about seat-sharing. We will also hold talks with RJD’s West Bengal unit and all aspiring candidates,” said Rajak. He said the state unit’s views would be the deciding factor for alliances with like-minded parties.
RJD leaders said TMC could benefit from an alliance with their party as there are sizeable Bihari voters from different caste groups in West Bengal. “Both the TMC and the BJP seek votes of people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In this scenario, RJD’s alliance with secular parties could benefit the secular bloc,” said Siddiqui.
The RJD has been contesting three to four seats in West Bengal. An RJD candidate was elected from the Bura Bazaar assembly segment in Kolkata in 2006.
The RJD has identified seats in Asansol, Kolkata, and Kharagpur to contest in the 2021 elections.
The people cited above said in case talks with TMC on seat arrangement do not materialise, the RJD would then approach the Left-Congress alliance.
In Assam, the RJD delegation will meet representatives of AIUDF for a possible alliance. “We want to contest 10-12 seats in Assam. It will be a major foray. The party has contested polls in the state earlier but without success,” said another RJD leader.
RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav also plans to visit Kolkata based on the response the the delegation gets.
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