PATNA: Amid smouldering tensions between RJD and Congress over seat-sharing in Bihar, RJD leader and de-facto party chief Tejashwi Yadav’s meetings with BSP chief Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow have raised Congress’s hackles.
While RJD leaders claimed the meetings in Lucknow were as much a personal visit as one to discuss a strategy to defeat BJP both in UP and Bihar, Congress leaders disapproved of RJD’s proximity to the two UP-based parties. SP and BSP stuck an alliance and announced a seat-sharing deal last week that excluded Congress.
“Congress will not issue any political statement on this (Tejashwi’s Lucknow meetings) till they (RJD) make it clear why he went to meet those who deserted Congress in forming an alliance in Uttar Pradesh,” said senior Congress leader and MLC Prem Chand Mishra.
Stating that Congress has “absolutely no idea” about the reasons behind Tejashwi’s meetings with Mayawati and Akhilesh, Mishra said maybe he went to Lucknow because he has relatives in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family there. “Maybe he has gone with tilkut to greet them on Makar Sankranti,” he added.
“The politics in UP is different from that of Bihar. The two main regional parties in UP are very strong. Our alliance with Congress in Bihar is intact and indissoluble,” said senior RJD leader Bhai Birendra. “Tejashwi’s visit is in his personal capacity. He has met his relatives there. He also met Mayawati. He discussed with them strategies on how to defeat BJP both in UP and Bihar,” he added.
Tejashwi is understood to have asked Akhilesh to spare one seat in UP for RJD’s UP chief Ashok Singh within the SP-BSP alliance in return for one seat in Bihar for SP’s Bihar chief Devendra Yadav as part of the Grand Alliance.
RJD insiders said Tejashwi’s meetings with the SP and BSP chiefs primarily aimed at strengthening and widening the political resistance to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s continuing imprisonment and putting pressure on Congress to agree to contest for fewer Lok Sabha seats in Bihar than it wants. Congress has demanded 16 seats, but RJD wants it to contest for five, said sources.
“Just like in UP, our (RJD) main rival is BJP, not JD(U). Tejashwi’s meetings with the SP and BSP chiefs is aimed at strengthening the emerging Opposition unity against BJP at the national level,” said a senior RJD leader.
Bihar’s ruling JD(U) and BJP, meanwhile, used Tejashwi’s Lucknow meetings to pour ridicule on the RJD-led Grand Alliance in Bihar, which includes Congress, and portrayed the alliance as unstable.
JD(U) leader Neeraj Kumar asked RJD to clarify if it thought SP and BSP behaved respectfully with Congress in UP. BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said the contradictions cropping up between Congress and RJD indicate the two parties would fight the LS polls against each other.