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The Hindu
The Hindu
Amarnath Tewary

Congress-RJD spar over upcoming Bihar Council poll

The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar may have sealed the deal for the upcoming State legislative council poll on 24 seats with little murmuring from Mukesh Sahani–led Vikashil Insaan Party but the Opposition mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) allies — Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal — are engaged in a spat over seats.

While the date for the Council polls is yet to be announced, they are likely to take place in late February or early March. Out of 24 seats falling vacant, 13 were held by the BJP, eight by JD(U), two by RJD and one seat by the Congress.

Recently, the NDA allies BJP and JD(U) took 12 and 11 seats respectively while leaving one seat to another ally, the Union Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras-led Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party. However, two other NDA allies, the Jitan Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and Vikashil Insaan Party (VIP) did not get any seat. VIP chief Mukesh Sahni later, announced that his party would contest alone on all 24 seats but would not destabilize the government. Mr Sahani with four party MLAs is also Minister in the State government.

The Opposition mahagathbandhan alliance partners, though, were in Delhi few days ago for seat distribution talks but the meeting turned bitter when RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav told media persons that his party would contest the upcoming poll on all 24 seats “on its own strength”.

“We’ve made it clear that we support them (Congress party) on the national level. What more can be asked for,” Mr. Yadav added. However, he said the Left parties will be taken on board for the polls.

Earlier in October 2021, both the RJD and Congress had fallen out over the Assembly by-poll on two seats — Tarapur (Munger) and Kusheshwarsthan(Darbhanga) — and both were defeated by the ruling JD(U).

Meanwhile, the three senior Congress leaders — State president Madan Mohan Jha, party’s Rajya Sabha member Akhilesh Kumar Singh and leader of Congress legislature party in State Assembly Ajit Sharma — have been waiting to meet RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in Delhi to finalize the seat distribution and seal the deal with top party leadership. But, RJD sources told The Hindu, that Mr. Prasad told them categorically that only Mr. Tejashwi Yadav would take a final call on the issue and the Congress leaders should now speak to him.

Miffed Congress leaders from Bihar seem heading for a confrontation. “Tejashwi Yadav is a big leader and now he should also announce that RJD would contest the 2024 Lok Sabha poll on its own. In fact, the Congress has suffered most in the State because of its alliance with the RJD,” senior State Congress leader and party MLC Prem Chandra Mishra said.

“Taking cognizance of RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s comment over the issue, our top party leadership should immediately sever ties with the RJD. Otherwise, Congress in coming days will be confined only to the Patna’s Sadaquat Ashram and in files of AICC. Who are those people who still talk of alliance with the RJD? I wonder why the party leadership does not throw them out,” asked senior State Congress leader and AICC member Kishore Kumar Jha.

State Congress president Madan Mohan Jha said he had apprised the party leadership about what Mr Yadav comments to the media. “Whatever decision the top party leadership will take on it, we’ll follow,” he added.

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