Bihar assembly polls: Nothing less than 70 seats agreeable, Congress tells RJD
Amid the war of nerves in the opposition Grand Alliance, the Congress is pushing the RJD hard to concede at least 70 seats for the assembly election.Updated: Oct 01, 2020, 00:03 IST
Senior leaders of the Congress unit in Bihar on Wednesday asserted that the party might be compelled to explore other options if the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) offered anything less than 70 seats out of 243, as committed earlier, for them to contest the assembly polls together.
A consensus to this effect was reportedly reached among the senior party leaders, including All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil, AICC general secretary Tariq Anwar and former speaker Meira Kumar at a meeting held at the party’s national headquarter on Wednesday afternoon.
The leaders wondered as to why the RJD which leads the opposition Grand Alliance was backtracking on its commitment offered by party seniors Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Manoj Jha, a month ago.
“The leaders discussed the sudden change of RJD’s approach and resolved to apprise former AICC chief Rahul Gandhi about their decision to take the final call on the issue tonight or tomorrow,” said a leader present at the meeting.
Besides Gohil, Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) chief Madan Mohan Jha, Congress legislature party leader Sadanand Jha, former Governor Nikhil Kumar and former Union minister Shakeel Ahmad were also present.
The RJD began flexing its muscle after BPCC screening committee chairman and former AICC general secretary Avinash Pande during his stay in Patna categorically stated that the Congress might think of going solo in the absence of an honourable agreement of seats with the RJD.
Reacting to Pande’s assertion, RJD leaders in Bihar, including national spokesman Manoj Jha and party MLA Shakti Singh Yadav said that they had allocated 58 assembly seats besides Valmikinagar Lok Sabha seat for the Congress. “We are following the coalition dharma by offering a good number of seats to the Congress. We are striving to keep the old tie intact, and expect the Congress shall also demonstrate a generous gesture,” said Shakti Singh Yadav.
A senior Congress leader, privy to the issue, said that the party had identified seats to contest in the wake of initial assurance by the RJD seniors. “Congress intends to field at least one candidate in urban settlements of all districts. We had identified 75 seats. But, the party may consider forgoing a few seats to keep the alliance intact,” he said, adding that the seat-sharing issue would be resolved anyway by Thursday.
BPCC spokesman Harkhu Jha said that the talks among senior leaders of both the parties were going on. “Hopefully, the issues would be resolved amicably,” said Jha.
The Congress leaders are also upset over the RJD’s delaying tactics, as it had compelled the party to contest only nine seats against formal agreement of leaving 11 seats for it during the last Lok Sabha elections.
“The situation had forced the party to relocate sitting MP of Darbhanga and BJP rebel Kirti Azad to Jharkhand’s Dhanbad constituency,” said a leader, adding that they agreed to the arrangement as the party’s stakes were high in Bihar at that time.
Meanwhile, the screening committee headed by Pande carried out an exercise to shortlist the most potential candidates for all 243 constituencies going to the polls from October 28. Nomination for the first phase of polling will begin from Thursday.