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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Red faces in Congress after GA seat allotment in Bihar

Calling the shots in the GA, like his father Lalu Prasad did during his heyday in Bihar, Tejashwi on Friday announced the seats to be contested by the Congress along with his own party candidates.

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 30, 2019 15:57 IST
Subhash Pathak
Subhash Pathak
Hindustan Times, Patna
lok sabha elections 2019,lok sabha polls in bihar,grand alliance candidates in bihar
Rashtriya Janta Dal leader Tejaswi Yadav , HAM (S) chief Jitan Ram Majhi, VIP party chief Mukesh Shahni and others during the Grand Alliance press conference in Patna, Friday March 29,2019.(Santosh Kumar / HT Photo )

The allotment of seats for the Congress under the Grand Alliance, announced on Friday, turned out to be a major letdown for the grand old party in Bihar.

Contrary to the general perception that the party was regaining its ground in Mithilanchal, particularly after elevation of Madan Mohan Jha as the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) chief, hopes of many senior leaders in the area of fighting the Lok Sabha polls withered away in the face of hard bargaining by RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav.

Calling the shots in the GA, like his father Lalu Prasad did during his heyday in Bihar, Tejashwi on Friday announced the seats to be contested by the Congress along with his own party candidates. “The Congress seems to have turned a B-team of the RJD in Bihar once again,” said a senior Congress leader.

Retreating from its old stand of fielding its candidates on 11 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, the Congress has now confined itself to only nine seats, leaving a lion’s share for the RJD.

BPCC spokesman and former MLA Harkhu Jha said it was unfortunate that a national party capitulated before its regional ally. “It is a major letdown for the party leaders in Mithilanchal, who were striving hard for the last one year or so to regain hold of their bastion,” said Jha.

With Kirti Azad, rebel BJP MP and son of former chief minister Bhagwat Jha Azad into its fold, Congress was hoping to contest from Darbhanga, the constituency he has represented in the Parliament thrice.

Besides Darbhanga, Madhubani, Jhanjharpur and Sitamarhi were other seats that the Congress was eyeing.

“Can the Congress afford to woo cadres of rival parties when it could not pay regard to a sitting MP,” senior Congress leader Kishore Kumar Jha said, adding that the Congress seemed to have been treated at par with RLSP and HAM, which hardly had their organisational support base in the state.

Another senior leader, pleading anonymity, said it was a matter of grave concern that the GA did not think of fielding any candidate from the Brahmin community, which holds sway in many constituencies, including in Mithilanchal and Champaran regions. “Brahmins were enraged due to their marginalisation by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). But the Congress too failed to seize the opportunity,” said a former MLA.

A section of senior party leaders said the party gave preference to those who joined it from other parties than its loyalists. “Out of the eight candidates almost finalised to contest the LS polls, four have joined the Congress just recently. And if former BJP MP Kirti Azad agrees to contest Valmiki Nagar, the scenario could worsen even further,” they said.

Of the eight Congress candidates almost finalised so far, four are party outsiders. While Shatrughan Sinha (Patna Sahib) and Uday Singh alias Pappu Singh (Purnia) have come from BJP, Tariq Anwar (Katihar) has from the NCP. Nilam Devi, wife of Independent legislator and strongman Anant Singh, has been given party ticket from Munger.

The four loyalists who have been given tickets are Ranjeet Ranjan (Supaul), Meira Kumar (Sasaram), Ashok Kumar (Samastipur) and Mohammad Javed (Kishanganj).

Aurangabad, which the Congress had been eyeing for its leader and former MP Nikhil Kumar, has gone to HAM(S) of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi as part of the Grand Alliance seat deal.

First Published: Mar 30, 2019 15:57 IST