Congress faces fresh alliance trouble in Bihar

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on March 15, 2019

File photo of Congress President Rahul Gandhi with Bihar Congress chief Madan Mohan Jha (second from left) RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav (third from right) and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot (second from right)   -  The Hindu

RJD sets ultimatum for finalising pact on seat-sharing

After the mess-up in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, the Congress has fresh alliance trouble brewing in Bihar, where the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has set the party an ultimatum to agree to a seat-distribution arrangement for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls..

Expressing hope that a formal announcement will be possible by Sunday, the day the ultimatum ends, RJD’s top brass told BusinessLine that it is likely to get more than 10 seats. There are 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in the politically-important State.

Likely distribution

Sources indicate that the “tepid” response from the AICC leadership has irked the RJD. In Bihar, the NDA has firmed up its alliance by completing the seat-sharing process. AICC general secretary in-charge, Shaktisinh Gohil, told BusinessLine that talks of an ultimatum were just rumours. “We are trying to announce the alliance on Sunday. All talks are over,” Gohil said. RJD leader and MP Manoj Jha also said that the details will be finalised soon.

A senior leader from Bihar, who was part of the negotiations, said the game of one-upmanship being played by both the RJD and the Congress, is delaying the process. The informal understanding is that the RJD will get about 20 seats while the Congress will get 10 or more in the alliance.

Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party is likely to get three seats. Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha will get one seat. The RJD is not ready to give more than two seats to the Left parties. In that case, the CPI(ML) Liberation and the CPI will get one seat each. The CPI(M) had declared its plan to contest from the Ujiarpur seat earlier.

A source indicated that the RJD has issues in supporting the CPI in Begu Sarai, if former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar is named as the candidate.

The RJD feels that Kumar may face trouble, as certain caste combinations may work against him. Four seats will be divided between smaller parties such as the Vikashsheel Insaan Party.

Panel missing in action

The indecision within the Congress’ top brass is also, apparently, delaying the process. The six-member pre-poll alliances sub-group of the AICC, headed by veteran leader AK Antony, did not have even a single meeting for almost one year. “The alliance formation has become a tedious process, as this panel is non-functional. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has given some elbowroom for the State units, and that is why tie-ups with Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra could be formed effectively. But whenever there are differences among State leaders, the Antony panel is supposed to give a direction. Be it Bihar, West Bengal, or Delhi, this panel hasn’t done anything to solve the issues so far,” a senior AICC functionary told BusinessLine on the condition of anonymity.

The pre-poll alliance sub-group will have to guide the high command in States such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh as well. “We will soon hold a meeting and take stock of the situation,” a member in Antony’s panel said.

Published on March 15, 2019

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