Friends-turned-foes, the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) and Janata Dal-United (JD-U), are walking a tightrope in Seemanchal in the absence of leaders who would win seats in the forthcoming parliamentary and assembly polls in Bihar. While RJD is looking for a replacement for its stalwart leader (late) Md Taslimuddin, who had reaped rich dividends for the party for more than two decades, the JD-U continues to pin high hopes on its Purnea MP Santosh Kushwaha, who is not acceptable to all sections of the society. Bihar’s Seemanchal region, in the state’s northeast, consists of four districts, Araria, Purnea, Kishanganj and Katihar. It is one of the backward areas of India, but now it is in a developing phase. Muslims have a sizeable population in the four districts, ranging between 40 and 70 %. Taslimuddin, for decades, remained their undisputed leader but his death two years back has created a void both within the community and the RJD. His death has also caused a feud in his family with his sons and grandchildren fighting among themselves to claim his political legacy, further adding to RJD’s woes. “Taslimuddin is for Seemanchal what Lalu Prasad is for the RJD,” a senior RJD leader, requesting not to be quoted, said. Infighting in Taslimuddin’s family came to fore recently when his eldest son and RJD MP from Araria, Sarfaraz Alam, kept his youngest brother, Shahnawaz Alam, who is RJD’s MLA from Jokihat, away from the function organised to commemorate their father’s birth anniversary.Shanawaz had minced no words while conceding all was not well within the family, saying he was deliberately kept away from the function. “No banners and posters carried my name, but I attended the function as it was my father’s birth anniversary and also because Tejashwi Yadav had come,” he had said.The event, held on January 4 in Araria, was also attended by JNU student leaders Kanahaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid.State RJD general secretary Arun Kumar Yadav said, “We are committed to giving a united fight under the leadership of Tejashwiji and hence we don’t care for the politics being played in Seemanchal.”Senior party leader Kamal Kishor Yadav said, “There is no leader in Seemanchal, rather in entire north Bihar who is a match to Taslimuddin. The party badly misses him this forthcoming elections. He was accessible and acceptable to all.”Despite its best efforts, JD-U hasn’t been successful in grooming a leader in the region who could fight Taslimuddin and the RJD in the region. The party’s only hope, Purnea MP Santosh Kumar Kushwaha, has still not emerged as a leader who acceptable to all.“Except in a few pockets, JD-U MP is not acceptable even to his party men,” a JD-U leader said. “Upendra Kushwaha’s exit from NDA will also dent JD-U’s prospects in forthcoming LS polls,” he said.In Seemanchal, the JD-U is set to face twin challenges, one from RJD and the other from the dissidents of its alliance partner BJP, whose former MP from Purnea Uday Singh alias Pappu Singh recently deserted the party.“Uday Singh is a big leader and his exit from party will badly affect NDA’s prospects and the worst to be affected would be JD-U,” another BJP leader said.“NDA had miserably failed in opening its account in 2014 polls despite the Modi wave. Hence, BJP has nothing to lose this time in Seemanchal and Kosi comprising six Lok Sabha seats,” Anant Bharti, a BJP leader and party spokesperson of Purnea said. “A renewed NDA, however, will emerge victorious on almost all seats this time.” In 2014 LS polls, RJD and Congress had bagged two seats each while JD-U and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) bagged one each in Seemanchal and Kosi region. During the 2015 assembly polls, the Grand Alliance (GA) had won 29 out of 37 seats in Seemanchal and Kosi regions. JD-U then part of GA had won 14, RJD 7, and Congress had won 8 seats while BJP could win just 7 seats. CPI (ML) had one seat.