RJD for speedily sealing Bihar seat sharing, Congress for Rahul Gandhi rally first
According to sources, Lalu Prasad-led RJD wants Congress to fight seats proportionate to the number of constituencies contested by it as an ally in 2015 assembly polls.
Though the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is keen on finalising a seat sharing deal in the Grand Alliance (GA) in the coming week, its major ally Congress is not as eager to stamp the deal before the proposed February 3 rally of Rahul Gandhi, which the party has planned as a show of strength.
“Party’s entire machinery is primed to make the rally an exceptional event. This is a matter of highest priority at the moment. We are concentrating on ensuring its success,” said Prem Chandra Mishra, MLC and AICC media panellist, declining to comment any further.
According to sources, Lalu Prasad-led RJD wants Congress to fight seats proportionate to the number of constituencies contested by it as an ally in 2015 assembly polls. And as one Lok Sabha seat usually comprises six assembly constituencies, the maximum number of seats coming Congress’s way, under this formula, would not be more than seven.
After the UP development, where SP-BSP struck a deal with an equal number of seat share and leaving the Congress high and dry, the Congress camp is wary of the wily RJD chief, who, despite being an old and trusted ally, has been miserly in parting of seats. In 2004, RJD handed a raw deal to the Congress, giving it only four seats. In 2009, Congress contested alone while in 2014, Congress, in alliance with RJD contested 12 seats.
Bihar Congress president Madan Mohan Jha does not see any deliberate design in the seat sharing deal spilling over to February, as against the deadline of January. “Preliminary meetings will start. Our common aim is to defeat the NDA. Nothing much should be read even if the deadline gets exceeded by a day or two. Things will be settled amicably,” Jha said.
RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary also ruled out any stalemate in the GA over seat sharing.“Kharmas is over. Allow one-two rounds to take place. Things will be settled.”
Former chief minister and Hindustani Awaam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi said, “We are waiting for BJP-JD (U) to name their respective seats and candidates. There is no hitch in GA.”
Much before JD (U)-BJP equal seat share deal in December 2018, Congress had laid bare its intent in October to raise its stake in the GA and bat for 20-20 formula, hinting that it was ready to accommodate remaining allies in its quota of seats. However, Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP’s entry in the GA fold has queered the whole calculation.
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Congress insiders say that the party has been subjected to criticism on its organisational strength and support base for long and, now, it wants to ride the success in three state assembly polls as a sign of its turnaround at the February 3 rally in state capital.
Postponing the seat finalisation deal till February will also keep all aspirants for 2019 polls on their toes, besides helping the party to use the rally’s success for bargaining a better deal in the alliance. Other than Kushwaha, no leader has backed Rahul Gandhi’s prime ministerial candidature.
First Published: Jan 20, 2019 08:06:18