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As Grand Alliance expands, Congress considers ceding some ground

Sources in the state Congress confided that the party might contest less number of seats than it had contested in 2014 polls

patna Updated: Dec 27, 2018 13:07 IST
Subhash Pathak
Subhash Pathak
Hindustan Times, Patna
grand alliance,RLSP,GA
Patna: Mukesh Sahni, National President of the Vikasheel Insaan Party (VIP) raises hands with RJD's leader Tejashwi Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) leader Upendra Kushwaha after joining the grand alliance during a press conference in Patna.(HT File)

The Congress is contemplating the best strategy for winnability of its Grand Alliance (GA) in Bihar even if it has to make some compromises in the forthcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

A few weeks ago, working president of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) Kaukab Quadri had disputed its ally RJD’s claim of being “big brother” (major partner) of the alliance, saying that ”Congress being the national party had the legitimate right to fight on maximum seats in Lok Sabha elections”.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge for Bihar, Shaktisinh Gohil, has already said that distribution of seats among the GA would be a smooth exercise as it was a coalition of ”hearts” and not the parties. “Seats would be decided on the basis of winnability factor,” he said, adding that seat-wise survey was under way to assess the prospect of the parties and their candidates.

Sources in the state Congress confided that the party might contest less number of seats than it had contested in 2014 polls. “Congress had fielded its candidates on 12 seats in alliance with the RJD and NCP. However, as various parties are teaming up with the GA, indications are that the party may have to make some compromises,” they said.

They said there would be crisis of seats for the party owing to the growing number of GA partners. “Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP is eying at least four seats to contest, while Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal is unlikely to fight less than two seats. Left parties, which have evinced their interest to join the GA, are hoping to field its candidates on four seats. Even Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi has staked its claim on two seats. Mukesh Shahni of Vikasshee lnsaan Party (VIP), which joined the GA recently, is preparing to contest from Muzaffarpur,” they argued.

The GA may face further crisis of seats for its allies in Bihar if Mayawati-led BSP and Akhilesh Yadav-led SP agree to enter into electoral pact with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. Both BSP and SP have finalised seat distribution and left only two seats of Rai Baraily and Amethi for the Congress. “We have to adjust them in Bihar if they team up with Congress in UP,” said a senior BPCC leader.

BPCC spokesman Harkhu Jha, however, contended that the party’s priority was to ensure victory of maximum number of GA candidates. “Right now, it is immaterial to discuss how many seats Congress will contest. The decision on seats to be allocated to the party would be decided in consultation with senior leaders of the AICC,” argued Jha.

A section of senior leaders, who are desperate to fight the elections in view of recent surge of popularity of the Congress manifested in poll results in three major states, said they would meet party chief Rahul Gandhi and apprise him about the ground realities. “It would go against the interests of the party if it decided to contest on less number of seats. Can we rely the parties which joined the GA after defecting from the BJP-led NDA? None can guarantee they will stay together in crisis,” claimed a former BPCC chief.

They, however, also contended it was not only the Congress which needed to make compromises. “Other allies, including RJD, are also expected to ease the crisis,” they said.

First Published: Dec 27, 2018 13:07 IST