RJD eyes Bengal, Assam assembly polls, considers pacts with TMC, Congress-AIUDF
- The RJD is looking to contest seven to eight seats in West Bengal and 12 seats in Assam.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) will contest the upcoming assembly elections in West Bengal and Assam for which the party’s senior leaders will hold talks with Trinamool Congress and Congress–AIUDF alliance, party leaders said Wednesday.
The RJD is looking to contest seven to eight seats in West Bengal and 12 seats in Assam.
Sources said the RJD’s top leadership has taken a decision to contest the West Bengal polls following much deliberation in the last few weeks after initially being skeptical about the idea. Many within the party had felt that the RJD should not contest the election and rather support secular parties in their fight against the BJP which is the main challenger to the ruling TMC in that state
“We want an alliance with TMC as it is our first choice. Our primary goal is to defeat the BJP in Bengal and also in Assam,” said a senior leader, wishing not to be quoted.
A delegation of party’s senior led by national principal secretary general Abdul Bari Siddiqui and national general secretary Shyam Rajak will meet TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and TMC’s youth leader Abhishek Banerjee during their visit to Kolkata from January 30 to February 2.
“We will meet TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee and then the West Bengal CM to talk of an alliance and seat sharing. We will also hold talks with RJD’s West Bengal unit and all aspiring candidates,” said Shyam Rajak. He said the state unit’s views would be a deciding factor in forging an alliance with like- minded parties.
The RJD’s top leaders feel that the TMC, which is facing a big challenge from the BJP, could benefit from an alliance with their party as there are sizable Bihari voters from different caste groups in Kolkata and other districts. “Both the TMC and BJP are eyeing voters from UP and Bihar. In this scenario, RJD’s alliance with secular parties could benefit the secular bloc,” said Siddiqui.
Insiders said the RJD, which had contested three to four seats in previous polls, is eyeing seven to eight seats in an alliance with the TMC. Some of the seats identified are in Asansol including Raniganj, a few seats in Kolkata and few in south Bengal in Kharagpur. Sources said in case talks with TMC on seat arrangement does not materialise, the RJD would then approach the Left-Congress alliance.
A senior TMC leader, who did not want to be named, said, "In the past the RJD contested seats in Bengal, but as a partner of the Left Front. The same was done by the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh. Only Mamata Banerjee can take a decision on this."
Insiders said the RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav may visit Kolkata in the coming weeks based on the response the party’s delegation gets from the TMC on seat adjustment.
The delegation will leave for Guwahati on February 2 to meet representatives of AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) led by Badriuddin Ajmal on seat sharing and possible alliance.
“We want to contest 10-12 seats in Assam. It will be the first major foray of the RJD. In the past the party had contested polls but it did get the desired results,” said another senior leader.