PATNA: Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal on Monday ticked off the Congress, its alliance partner in Bihar, for an "open letter" reminding it of a "promise" made to the latter with regard to Rajya Sabha elections.
RJD national spokesman Manoj Jha, said the "open letter" by AICC in-charge for Bihar, Shaktisinh Gohil, was "written with a closed mind" and asserted that the party was looking forward to staking its claim to two seats in Bihar where elections will be held for five Rajya Sabha seats.
The Congress on Sunday had reminded RJD of the "promise" to help the party win a Rajya Sabha berth from the state where it lacks adequate numbers in the assembly to win a seat in the Upper House on its own.
"The promise that he (Gohil) sought to remind us of, was made in a specific context", Jha said referring to the Congress leader reminding Tejashwi Yadav, Prasad's heir apparent, of having promised "one seat to Congress from Bihar" in the Rajya Sabha.
Yadav had made the promise at a press conference last year during the Lok Sabha polls in an apparent bid to soothe ruffled feathers in the Congress which had been upset over getting nine out of 40 seats in Bihar as against a demand for 15.
The Congress had also taken exception to the RJDs refusal to give up Darbhanga, much to the embarrassment of Rahul Gandhi who had inducted sitting MP Kirti Azad after he quit the BJP.
"When Tejashwi Yadav made the promise, the RJD was planning to contest 25 seats on its own, in proportion to its strength in Bihar, and accommodate other Grand Alliance partners in the remaining 15. That did not happen and we had to contend with less than 20 for the first time in the party's history," Jha said.
The RJD had contested 19 seats, giving up Arrah from its quota for the CPI(ML) in return for the latter not fielding its candidate in Pataliputra where Prasad's daughter Misa Bharti was trying her luck against her father's former aide and sitting BJP MP Ram Kripal Yadav.
However, the RJD ended up with its worst-ever performance and drew a blank while the Congress which won Kishanganj emerged as the sole Grand Alliance constituent to have escaped decimation at the hands of the ruling NDA.
"I would like to add, an open letter should not be written with a closed mind. Moreover, the ties between the RJD and the Congress are not going to be affected by small issues.
"It should be remembered that Lalu Prasad had stood solidly behind Sonia Gandhi when many in her own party were not supporting her fully. The Congress should understand our predicament. After Ram Jethmalanis death we have been left with four Rajya Sabha members. We must have five or more to be recognized in the House as a party and not fall in the others category," Jha added.
Jethmalani had died last year and the seat falling vacant upon his death was bagged by the BJP with support of Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U) which had helped the RJD in sending to the Rajya Sabha the noted jurist when the two parties were in alliance.
Moreover, one of the RJDs current four seats falls in Jharkhand occupied by Prasad's close aide Prem Chand Gupta whose term ends next month and who has a slim chance of making it from the neighbouring state where the party has just one MLA.
In Bihar, the RJD has close to 80 MLAs and the combined strength of Grand Alliance in excess of 100 can help it wrest at least two of the five seats from the NDA.
RJD sources also point out that the party had helped the Congress in sending Bihar leader Akhilesh Prasad Singh to the Rajya Sabha in 2018.
Meanwhile, former Union minister Upendra Kushwahas RLSP sought to fish in troubled waters and stated that if the RJD failed to fulfil its promise to the Congress it would result in disintegration of the Grand Alliance.
"Tejashwi Yadav had made the announcement at a press conference attended by top leaders of all the five constituents of the Grand Alliance. If the party goes back on its promise, it would not augur well for the coalition", RLSP national general secretary Madhaw Anand said.
Filing of nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha elections comes to a close on March 13.