PATNA: Cracks seemed to have deepened in the opposition Grand Alliance in Bihar with the Congress in-charge of the state, Bhakt Charan Das, on Friday asserting that the grand old party will contest all 40 Lok Sabha seats in 2024, as its ally, the RJD, "did not follow the coalition dharma".
The RJD was quick to respond stating that the 'Mahagathbandhan' was "intact" in the state.
Das, on his part, said that the RJD has not given the Congress its due respect, irked over its alliance partner's decision to field a candidate for bypoll to Kusheshwar Asthan assembly seat, which his party had contested in last year's elections.
"If the RJD cannot show us respect, how can we give them respect in return? The party has not followed the coalition 'dharma'. The alliance collapsed the very day RJD decided to contest the Kusheshwar Asthan seat.
"We are now strengthening our party for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and will contest all 40 seats," Das told reporters on the sidelines of a programme organised here to welcome newly inducted Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar at Sadaqat Ashram (Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters).
Gujarat Congress working president Hardik Patel and independent MLA Jignesh Mewani, who arrived in Patna on Friday to campaign in favour of the Congress candidates for the upcoming by-elections, were also extended a warm welcome at Sadaqat Ashram.
By-elections to Kusheshwar Asthan and Tarapur assembly segments have been necessitated by deaths of sitting MLAs, both belonging to the JD(U).
The two seats will go to polls on October 30.
The discord in the Grand Alliance came to the fore recently when the Congress sought to field its candidate for bypoll to Kusheshwar Asthan - a seat which it had contested in the 2020 state elections, in line with the Grand Alliance's seat-sharing pact - but the RJD went ahead and named its nominees from both the constituencies.
Das further rubbished claims apparently made by RJD heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav that both parties were fighting a friendly contest at the two seats.
"There is no friendly fight happening with the RJD. We are contesting the elections to win the seats," he asserted.
Asked if the Congress could review its stance against the RJD if the party makes an approach to that end, Das said, "The high command will take a call on this."
Responding to assertions by Das, Bihar RJD chief Jagdanand Singh said that the grand alliance is intact, and that the time wasn't ripe enough to make predictions for 2024 parliamentary elections.
"The grand alliance is intact and the RJD is a part of it. Whatever Das has said, it's his personal opinion. How can anyone predict about 2024 Lok Sabha polls in 2021?" Singh added.
Meanwhile, Kumar, after being welcomed into the fold, said that the Congress is the only party which can save the country's culture and heritage.
"The BJP is a threat to the Constitution and democracy of our country.Democracy can only be retained if the Congress is made stronger. Issues such as farmers' stir and inflation will only be addressed when we have a strong opposition," he said, further asserting that his party will win both Kusheshwarsthan and Tarapur by-polls.
Echoing him, Hardik Patel said there is a sense of urgency among people to save the country and the youth should make efforts on this front.
"We must save the country from the fundamentalist forces," said Patel.