Congress cold, RJD warms up to smaller allies
RJD poll managers say the Congress wants to piggy ride the party for the Lok Sabha polls to increase its own vote share and recover lost ground, which may not prove electorally beneficial for the RJD in the long run.Updated: Feb 27, 2019 09:15 IST
With the Congress playing the hardball, the RJD is veering around to the view that it is more important for it to accommodate smaller allies like the RLSP, LJD, HAM(S) and Vikasheel Insaan Party( VIP) which would be more useful in bagging votes of OBCs, scheduled castes, minorities and EBCs.
RJD is also keen on roping in BSP as well.
RJD poll managers say the Congress wants to piggy ride the party for the Lok Sabha polls to increase its own vote share and recover lost ground, which may not prove electorally beneficial for the RJD in the long run.
Though talks between Congress and RJD are still under way, RJD poll managers have started working on an alternative plan in case a seat sharing deal does not work out with Congress.
Sources said the RJD has decided to contest 25 seats in case the Congress does not come on board in the grand alliance. In case an alliance is finalised with Congress, RJD would contest 22 seats.
In the talks so far, the RJD has offered eight seats to Congress.
There are 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.
“In Uttar Pradesh, Congress was offered two out of 80 seats by the SP-BSP alliance, which is around three per cent of the total Lok Sabha seats. In Bihar, we are offering eight seats, which is around 20 % of the total 40 parliamentary seats. It is not bad,” said a senior RJD leader who is privy to seat sharing talks and is a confidant of RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
The RJD leader, however, said that given his party’s long association with Congress, it did not want create a situation where the grand alliance broke up as its main objective was to defeat the BJP-led NDA.
“We want the Congress to understand that social combination of the RJD and its smaller allies is the key to defeating the NDA in Bihar. In 1995 assembly polls, the RJD had won comprehensively by combining all social forces on one platform. The same happened in 2015 and now we have a similar coalition where LJD, Kushwaha, Manjhi and VIP are with us. They are all important for us,” said Jagdanand Singh, former MP and senior RJD leader.
Sources said the RJD leaders are under pressure from the smaller parties like RLSP, LJD and Jitan Ram Manjhi to finalise the seat sharing arrangement but the deal continues to get delayed owing to RJD and Congress not coming on an agreement so far.
Manjhi has already started showing his belligerent side by demanding four seats and had met the RJD chief on Saturday last week in this regard.
“ I am in GA and will remain so. But the seat sharing deal should be finalised soon,” he had said after meeting Lalu.
Sources said the Congress had apprised the RJD leadership that it would settles for no less than 15 seats. Congress also has expressed its desire to field several heavyweight candidates in the coming polls, a point where RJD has its own reservations.
Kauqab Quadri, working president of the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee, denied there were hurdles in the seat sharing talks but insisted the deal should be done only on the basis of winnability of seats. “ All allies in the GA should be allotted seats only by the winnability factor . RJD or other allies should not claim any number of seats by the reasoning that those seats have been traditional seats,” he said.
RJD has been reluctant to part with its old seats or where the party had come second in previous polls, be it Sheohar, Darbhanga, Supaul, Munger and Madhepura, some of which being claimed by Congress too.
“We expect the seat sharing deal would be finalised in first week of March. A concrete picture will emerge,” he said.
First Published: Feb 27, 2019 09:15 IST