PATNA: With Bihar Congress hardening its stance on the Bhabhua Assembly seat for the upcoming bypoll, ally RJD finds itself in a spot. Jailed RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav will take a final call on the fielding of candidates for bypolls in three seats.
While RJD, an ally of Congress since 1999, is keen on contesting in bypolls for all the three seats – Araria Lok Sabha seat and the Assembly seats of Bhabhua and Jehanabad – Congress has insisted on fielding its candidate in Bhabhua. RJD’s parliamentary board meeting, chaired by party national vice-president and former chief minister Rabri Devi on Tuesday, failed to arrive at any conclusion on choosing candidates due to strong statements by Congress leaders.
“Rabri Devi, who has been authorised to name the candidates, is aware of the situation, and the party chief has been informed about the developments. He will take a decision soon,” said a senior RJD leader.
The one-upmanship game between Congress and RJD came to the fore when both state Congress chief Kaukab Quadri and Congress legislature party leader Sadanand Singh said unequivocally that the national party would field its candidate in Bhabhua even if RJD does not agree to its demand.
In the 2015 Assembly polls, the Bhabhua Assembly seat was bagged by BJP’s Anand Bhushan Pandey, who had beaten his nearest rival from JD(U), Pramod Kumar Singh, the joint candidate of the then JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance. Pandey died in November last. BJP is likely to field his widow, Rinki Devi, in the seat.
Sources said party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, currently lodged in a jail near Ranchi after conviction in fodder scam cases, was apprised of Congress’s insistence on the Bhabhua seat during his appearance in a court in Ranchi on Wednesday.
“He (Lalu) has passed on certain messages to be conveyed to the Congress leadership. A consensus candidate on that seat will be announced in two or three days,” said an RJD leader.
Even though the process for filing nomination papers began on Tuesday, none of the parties has so far announced candidates for the March 11 bypolls. By Wednesday afternoon, only four nomination forms were obtained by independent candidates seeking to contest in the Bhabhua seat.