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Lok Sabha elections 2019: RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav announces all ‘Mahagathbandhan’ seats in Bihar

Party chief Lalu Prasad’s eldest daughter and Rajya Sabha member Misa Bharti will be pitted against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Ram Kripal Yadav from Patliputra. Yadav, once a staunch loyalist of Lalu Prasad, had defeated Misa in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 30, 2019 07:53 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
Mahagathbandhan,Bihar Mahagathbandhan,Bihar
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) Chief Jitan Ram Manjhi and other leaders join hands after announcing the grand alliance's candidates list for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections 2019, in Patna on March 29, 2019. (PTI Photo)

After weeks of tense negotiations, Bihar’s opposition alliance released a list of candidates on Friday though the absence of senior Congress leaders at the announcement and continued speculation over a number of seats fuelled speculation about more troubles in the coalition. The senior partner in the alliance, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), announced it will contest 19 of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats.

Party chief Lalu Prasad’s eldest daughter and Rajya Sabha member Misa Bharti will be pitted against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Ram Kripal Yadav from Patliputra. Yadav, once a staunch loyalist of Lalu Prasad, had defeated Misa in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav will contest from Madhepura on an RJD ticket. Raghuvansh Prasad will fight from Vaishali, Tanveer Hassan from Begusarai and Jagadanand Singh from Buxar.

Among prominent candidates announced by the Congress, which will fight nine seats, were Tariq Anwar from Katihar, former Lok Sabha speaker Meera Kumar from Sasaram and Ranjeet Ranjan, wife of expelled RJD leader Rajesh Ranjan, better known as Pappu Yadav, from Supaul. The grand alliance did not include two major left parties - Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) – but left the Ara seat for the Communist Party of India -Marxist Leninist (Liberation).

“The RJD would contest 19 seats in total and left one seat for Ara where ML has put its candidate. It is a good gesture on our part as the ML has been consistently fighting against rightist forces and oppressed sections,” RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said.

Other prominent candidates included former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi from Gaya and Vikasshil Insan Party (VIP) chief Mukesh Sahni from Khagaria.

Contestants from Sheohar, Valimiki Nagar, Patna Sahib and five constituencies allocated to Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) are yet to be named.

The contentious Darbhanga seat, which the Congress was demanding, was allotted to the RJD, which left the Valmiki Nagar seat for the Congress.

It was not clear whether rebel BJP leader and now Congress member Kirti Azad, who is the incumbent from Darbhanga, will contest from Valmiki Nagar or Dhanbad in Jharkhand.

“While Congress will declare its nominees from Valimiki Nagar and Patna Sahib at a later date, we will announce our candidate from Sheohar soon. RLSP will declare their candidates in coming days,” Tejashwi told reporters in Patna.

Top Bihar Congress leaders were conspicuous by their absence at the press conference as they were said to be in New Delhi. Senior leader Narendra Singh represented the Congress, fuelling speculation that the grand old party was unhappy over the denial of Darbhanga seat to it despite days of intense lobbying. Tejashwi refuted “rumours” of a “breakdown” in the grand alliance, saying he had discussed the seat sharing with senior Congress leaders, including party’s Bihar in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil and senior leader KC Venugopal.

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 16:05 IST