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Last Updated : Jan 23, 2019 04:11 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

RJD considers Congress-less alliance in Bihar over latter’s seat-sharing demand

The talks with Congress have however not failed

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Facing a demand for at least 12 seats from the Indian National Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is considering ‘plan B’ to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections with an alliance that does not include the Rahul Gandhi-led party.

According to a report in The Indian Express, the Tejashwi Yadav-led party is working on an 'alternative plan' by asking smaller Mahagathbandhan constituents to be prepared for an alliance that does not include the Congress.

The constituents of the alliance currently include RJD, Congress, former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Sharad Yadav's Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) and Left parties.

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The talks with Congress have however not failed, the report added.

“Just because Congress’ political stock has gone up a bit after its win in three states, it does not mean it can improve its Lok Sabha tally (two seats) in Bihar. It should put forward a realistic demand,” the newspaper quoted an RJD leader as saying.

Congress seeks ‘respectable share’

RJD has reportedly offered 7-8 seats to Congress as it has been also trying to get Left parties on board.

Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC)'s campaign panel's chief Akhilesh Prasad Singh conceded that the RJD is the 'big brother' in the state. "There is no problem. Discussions are taking place and things will be sorted out amicably," Singh, a Rajya Sabha member, told PTI.

"We will get respectable share in Bihar. What happened in UP will not be repeated here. We respect the RJD as the big brother of the grand alliance in Bihar. Nobody, however, denies that Congress President Rahul Gandhi is the face of anti-NDA forces at the national level," Singh said.

The newspaper report also quoted a Congress leader as saying that their demand for '10 plus seats' is realistic, adding that most constituents of the Opposition alliance are ready to finalise the seat-sharing formula before Congress’ mega rally in the first week of February.

It was earlier reported that Congress was gearing up for a rally at Patna’s historic Gandhi Maidan, which will be addressed by Rahul Gandhi. The party is hoping to draw large crowds and use it to showcase its strength. The party believes it could use the rally’s possible success as a bargaining chip in the seat-sharing discussions.

Earlier this month, Tejashwi Yadav met Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati. Reports suggest Tejashwi is willing to offer Bihar’s Gopalganj seat to BSP. The constituency borders Uttar Pradesh, where SP and BSP have left Congress out of their alliance.

What makes Bihar important?

Bihar sends 40 Members of Parliament (MPs) to the Lok Sabha. Performing well in the state is crucial for both the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and Mahagathbandhan.

In 2014, BJP won 22 seats in the state. This was followed by Lok Janshakti Party's (LJP) six. Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), which had then fought the polls separately, managed to bag just two seats. RJD had won four seats followed by RLSP and Congress’ three and two seats, respectively. Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had won one seat.

The NDA is facing a stiff challenge from the RJD-led Opposition alliance.

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First Published on Jan 23, 2019 11:11 am
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