PATNA: A day after Congress wrested control of three major states from BJP, the Opposition Grand Alliance in Bihar saw the beginning of a one-upmanship game between RJD and Congress over who would play the dominant role in next year’s Lok Sabha polls in the state.
While the Grand Alliance, formed by RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav before the 2015 Assembly polls, continues to be headed by RJD, Congress leaders in Bihar appeared restive ever since Yadav was jailed in December 2017 following his conviction in fodder scam cases. Apparently unwilling to let the alliance run under the leadership of Yadav’s younger son, Tejashwi Yadav, Congress leaders want to come out of RJD’s shadow.
Even before the final shape of the Grand Alliance is decided and seat-sharing talks for the LS polls begin, RJD and Congress leaders were on Wednesday found asserting their supremacy in the alliance.
“RJD is the largest party in Bihar. We have the largest number of MLAs in the Assembly. After the recent disqualification of one of our MLAs, we still have 80 MLAs. We are firmly in the elder brother’s seat in the alliance and we will steer it,” said senior RJD leader and MLA Bhai Birendra.
Claiming that Congress does not have as much influence on Bihar’s people as RJD, he said: “There is no question of Congress becoming a dominant player in the alliance in Bihar. It is RJD that will remain the leading player”.
But Congress leaders differed vociferously. “How can Congress be the junior party and younger brother in the alliance in Bihar? Congress is a national party. It has just won the popular mandate in three different states,” said Bihar Congress working president Kaukab Quadri, who was seen jovially beating a drum with a group of Congress workers to celebrate the party’s electoral success in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
“When the next government at the Centre is going to be formed under the leadership of Congress, how can it be the junior party in Bihar?” asked Quadri.
Sources said Tejashwi Yadav, 29, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, was upset by comments made by Quadri and some other Congress leaders. “Tejashwi has asked all RJD leaders not to speak on the issue for the time being,” said a leader close to him.