Congress victory in 3 states sets off ‘big brother’ debate with ally RJD
Victory of the Congress in three major states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh has sparked off an intense debate within the Grand Alliance (GA), comprising the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), over which party would lead the coalition in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Citing the RJD’s strength in the assembly, party MLA and spokesman Bhai Birendra claimed his party was the natural claimant for leading the coalition as ‘big brother’ to ensure emphatic victory of the GA in the state.
The RJD has 80 legislators in the assembly of 243 seats, while the Congress won 27 seats in the last assembly polls held in 2015. The RJD and the Congress had contested 101 and 41 seats, respectively, under the alliance also comprising Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United). The JD(U) had then wrested 71 seats out of 101 it had contested.
Working president of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) Kaukab Quadri, however, dismissed the RJD’s claim, saying that there would be no ‘big brother’ kind of approach in the Parliament polls. “How can the Congress stay as ‘small brother’ (a pillion rider) in the national level elections? This is crucial phase and every responsible person should avoid making uncalled for statements,” he said.
Apparently emboldened by the successes in three states considered the bastions of BJP, Congress leaders in Bihar have begun asserting their position in the alliance and looking for a larger number of seats to contest in Lok Sabha elections.
In 2014 parliamentary polls, the RJD had contested 27 seats and Congress was left to fight 12 seats, which were then decided by RJD chief Lalu Prasad. Katihar seat was left for Tariq Anwar to contest as an NCP nominee.
“Situation is different in Bihar for the Congress vis-à-vis the last Lok Sabha polls. While Anwar has already joined the Congress, many sitting MPs of the NDA are ready to fight on Congress tickets. We need to adjust them also,” said BPCC president Madan Mohan Jha, adding that unlike the last time, ‘winnability’ would be the sole factor for deciding the seats to be contested by the allies.
Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra, however, reiterated that seat adjustment would not in any way affect the GA’s prospects. “The Congress has always supported the idea of formation of a coordination committee to sort out issues of confrontation. We are striving hard with a single objective of uprooting the BJP from power and make Rahul Gandhi the next Prime Minister,” he said.
BJP’s defeat in the just concluded assembly polls has already led to squabbling within the NDA ,with ally JD(U) asking for a leadership role of the alliance in the Lok Sabha elections. Former education minister and JD(U) leader Ashok Choudhary said the BJP needed Nitish Kumar’s face to win elections in Bihar owing to his pro-development image.