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RJD, Congress tie up for Bihar bypolls on March 11

Congress and RJD struck a deal for the bypoll on three seats. While RJD will contest the Araria parliamentary and Jehanabad assembly seats, Congress will contest the Bhabua assembly seat.

patna Updated: Feb 16, 2018 19:46 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
Tejashwi Prasad Yadav,Kaukab Quadri,Congress
JD leader Tejaswi Yadav (right) and Cong leader Kadari during the press conference in Patna.(AP Dube/HT photo)

Ending all speculations, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress on Thursday announced a seat sharing arrangement for bypolls on three seats, including Araria parliamentary seat. Under the arrangement, RJD will contest Araria Lok Sabha seat and Jehanabad assembly seat, while Bhabua seat has been allotted to the Congress.

The bypolls are scheduled for March 11.

Leader of the opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Congress state president (incharge) Kaukab Quadri, in a joint press conference, said the arrangement had been reached by mutual understanding and discussions with the Congress high command.

The press conference came on a day when senior Congress leader Sadanand Singh hosted a lunch for chief minister Nitish Kumar at Kahalgaon, triggering speculations of growing proximity of the JD(U) strongman with a section of Congress leaders. Singh, who is the Congress Legislature Party leader, has been vocal in demanding the Bhabua seat from RJD.

The Congress state chief, however, downplayed Sadanand’s meeting with the chief minister, saying the senior leader had shared dais with Kumar in a Kahalgaon function and also hosted a lunch out of protocol. “Congress is united and we have nothing to do with JD(U),” he said.

Even Tejashwi denied any threat to the Congress-RJD alliance. “We are united,” he said.

Both RJD and Congress leaders also emphasised that there was no rift between the parties over the Bhabua seat and the seat sharing arrangement was reached in a smooth manner, while describing the so-called tussle over the Bhabua seat between the two parties as a ‘media creation’. “We are one as a force and share the common agenda to oust BJP from power,” they said.

Tejashwi announced that Mohammed Sarfaraz Alam, son of former MP Taslimuddin would contest the Araria seat while the Jehanabad seat would be contested by Kumar Krishna Mohan Suday Yadav, middle son of the late Jehanabad MLA Mundrika Singh Yadav. Both the Araria and Jehanabad seats are ‘sitting seats’ of the RJD. The Congress candidate from Bhabua seat is expected to be announced soon, Quadri said.

Insiders said RJD chief Lalu Prasad, presently in jail in Ranchi, thought it prudent to give in to the Congress’ demand to keep the national party in good humour and prevent his party from getting isolated.

Asserting that the RJD-Congress combine would win all the three seats, Tejashwi trained his guns at the JD(U) and chief minister asking why the JD(U) strongman had decided not to contest any seat in the bypoll in alliance with the BJP-led NDA.

“It shows, Nitish Kumar is already on the backfoot. He has given up the fight before it started,” Tejashwi said, wondering whether the NDA would now project him as a chief ministerial candidate in the next assembly polls.

“ The chief minister has totally surrendered to the BJP and is now singing paeans of the BJP and RSS,” he said, adding that talks of split within the RJD was just a hogwash and insisted how there was large number of JD(U) MLA keen to switch sides to the RJD. “..But we will not engineer defections,” he said.

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 19:46 IST