Problem of plenty may bug Grand Alliance in seat sharing
The GA or Mahagathbandhan is a coalition of political parties in Bihar which was formed before the 2015 legislative assembly elections and comprised the Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress.Updated: Dec 21, 2018, 08:49 IST
With former NDA partner Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) eventually defecting to the rival camp, the Grand Alliance (GA) in Bihar is plagued with the problem of plenty.
The GA or Mahagathbandhan is a coalition of political parties in Bihar which was formed before the 2015 legislative assembly elections and comprised the Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress.
However, in the last two years, the alliance saw addition of several parties while the JD(U) parted ways to join the NDA. Today, the GA comprises six parties—the Congress, RJD, Jitan Ram Majhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAM-S), RLSP, CPI and CPM. Besides, it also has the implicit support of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), which takes the total to eight.
Each of these parties wishes to contest on more than one seat in 2019 parliamentary polls, with bigger allies RJD and Congress already staking claim to a larger share.
Given its surging strength, the grouping is set to face the tumultuous task of satisfying everyone with the proverbial ‘respectable share’.
Incarcerated RJD chief Lalu Prasad has already announced that his party would contest 25 out of the 40 seats in Bihar with others sharing the remaining 15. Given the present political scenario when Congress is bolstered by victory in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, it is unlikely that the t the grand old party would yield to the RJD’s demand. It has already announced itself as the big brother in the alliance by virtue of its national party status as well as swelling popularity in the state.
In 2014, when the Congress had only four legislators, it had contested 12 parliamentary seats. Today, it has 27 MLAs and hence it is certain that it would like to have a bigger share of seats than the RJD.
Besides, the interests of other alliance partners, also cannot be undermined if the coalition wants to deprive Prime Minister Narendra Modi a second stint and snatch power from the NDA in the 2020 Bihar assembly polls.
Before switching to GA, RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha had been bargaining hard for three seats, but BJP and JD (U) were determined to give him only one seat. Having snubbed by the NDA at a crucial time, Kushwaha is certain to stick to his demand for three seats, namely Karakat, Ujiyarpur and Khagaria. The RJD would be unwilling to part with the Ujiyarpur seat as it wants to field Lalu’s close associate, Ashok Mehta, from there and this could emerge as a bone of contention between the two parties.
Similarly, HAM (S) would like to contest a minimum two seats, Gaya and Jehanabad, albeit there is a chance that it might stick to only Gaya against an assurance of getting more seats in the assembly polls.
The Left (CPI and CPM) is interested in contesting Begusarai and Ara. Former JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar’s electoral debut is already certain from Begusarai on a CPI ticket.
RJD insiders said SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav recently spoke to Lalu Prasad, requesting him to leave Jhanjharpur seat for his party’s Bihar unit president Devendra Yadav, who had represented the constituency in the 14th Lok Sabha.
Mayawati has evinced interest in fielding candidates from a couple of seats, including Gopalganj, which is reserved for Schedule Caste candidates.
“The Congress has moved way ahead since 2014. The Congress wave is sweeping the country. We will certainly get a respectable number of seats to contest. I don’t think there will be any issue in seat sharing,” said senior Congress leader and Katihar MP Tariq Anwar.
State Congress president Madan Mohan Jha said there was a solution to every problem. “We will amicably resolve all issues, including seat sharing,” he said.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday, Congress Bihar in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil said parties under the GA grouping were united on ideological issues. “There is no lust for seats among any one of us. I assure there will be no issue on seat sharing,” he said.
Leader of opposition in Bihar assembly and RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav too reiterated similar opinion from the same platform. “We are united in the interest of nation and Bihar, to protect constitution and save its institutions. We are united and shall remained united,” he said.