Bihar assembly election 2020: Congress divided over continuing RLSP tie-up
The Congress in Bihar appears to be divided over the continuation of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) in the opposition grand alliance as a dominant section agrees with the assessment of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) that Upendra Kushwaha’s party brings no value to the mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance).
Congress leaders familiar with the development said the other, smaller section and also some central functionaries want Kushwaha not to exit the alliance as part of an opposition strategy to project the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a party that “believes in a use and throw policy,” given to abandoning its allies.
The opposition will also cite the examples of the Telugu Desam party (TDP), the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) as examples of BJP allies that were let down, said a Congress leader.
Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) leader and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has already quit the opposition alliance and is said to be once again knocking at the doors of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
The assessment among a section of senior leaders of the Congress and the RJD as well is that both Manjhi and Kushwaha “don’t bring any value addition” to the opposition grouping and the votes of their parties are also not transferable, as was seen in the Lok Sabha elections last year.
Out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, only the Congress from the opposition grouping could manage to win one seat. The NDA, comprising BJP, Janata Dal (United) and Lok Janashakti Party (LJP), won the remaining 39 seats.
“I am in regular touch with Kushwaha. He had left NDA when he was a minister. Why did he leave it? He did so because he had seen the NDA closely and had left it on principle. I am hopeful there won’t be any problem in the future,” said Congress party’s Bihar in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil.
The bickering between the RJD and the RLSP is over the seat sharing. Kushwaha has also vetoed RJD’s move to name Tejashwi Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate of the grand alliance.
While the Congress has maintained that the alliance was yet to discuss the issue, its leaders claim that the party will not have any objection to Tejashwi Yadav as the chief ministerial face given that the RJD is the senior partner and has the discretion to name its candidate.
At the same time, both the RJD and the Congress have come to the conclusion that the alliance with Left parties – Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninst) – and also Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) of Mukesh Sahani will be a formidable one.
Bihar Congress leaders said while the Left parties have considerable influence in about 20-30 seats, Sahani controls a large chunk of votes in constituencies adjoining rivers across the state.
“But any alliance has to be on the basis of mutual respect and honest intentions. We are hopeful that leaders of other like-minded parties will shun their personal egos and keep in mind the larger goal of defeating the NDA in elections,” said senior Bihar Congress leader Kishore Kumar Jha.
The Congress and the RJD are waiting for Kushwaha’s next move before going ahead with the seat-sharing agreement. Both the parties have conducted their internal surveys on all the 243 seats in the state assembly.