PATNA: With the sharing of seats in Bihar’s Opposition Grand Alliance (GA) remaining unresolved due to RJD’s refusal to give ally Congress any more than ten seats, the national party plans to bargain harder after party chief Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Patna on February 3.
Despite Congress leaders’ efforts to finalise a seat-sharing pact for the Lok Sabha polls before the rally, RJD did not agree to hotfoot it because Congress insisted on getting 15 seats out of Bihar’s total 40, said sources. RJD, the main party in the alliance, is adamant on fielding candidates on 22 seats and wants all the other allies to share the rest 18 among themselves.
“Since Congress is a national party and it is the Lok Sabha polls, giving us ten seats is simply unjust. We contested for 12 seats in Bihar in the 2014 polls. Now, after the Assembly poll victories in three states, Congress is a far more powerful party than in 2014,” said a senior Congress leader who has attended two meetings on seat-sharing with RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.
Congress had won three seats in Bihar in 2014 LS polls. Ally RJD had contested for 27 and won four. Both parties have been under pressure over seat-sharing this time as the GA recently acquired new allies – Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP, former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM, Mukesh Sahni’s Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), Sharad Yadav’s LJD and the three Left parties – CPI, CPI(ML) and CPM. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The ‘Jan Akanksha Rally,’ which is going to be the party’s first major rally in Bihar in the past 28 years, would be attended by at least five lakh people and showcase the party’s popularity in the state, said Congress leaders. The rally’s success, they said, would enable Congress to persuade RJD to concede 15 seats to it.
“The assured ten seats can rise to 12 only if Congress presents a list of winnable candidates for those seats, but it will not be 15. We (RJD) can come down to 20 from 22, but no lower,” said an RJD leader and former minister close to Tejashwi Yadav.
Even if Congress and RJD resolve to contest for 12 and 20 seats respectively, it would be a tough task to distribute the rest eight seats among other allies. RLSP alone has sought six seats while VIP and HAM want three each, said sources.
Growing strains between Congress and RJD over seat sharing had brought a cloud over RJD’s participation in Gandhi’s rally, but Tejashwi said recently that he would attend it. Leaders of the two parties tried to put up a show of unity at a Makar Sankranti feast at Congress’s state headquarters feast on January 15.