All’s not well in opposition Grand Alliance in Bihar

March 28, 2019
Patna: Contrary to the repeated claims made by top opposition leaders in Bihar, all is not well in their Grand Alliance reportedly because of simmering discontent over seat sharing for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

It became apparent when the Grand Alliance postponed its scheduled joint press conference here on Thursday evening, where top leaders were expected to announce names of candidates for 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats and formal allocation of constituencies among the allies.

The Grand Alliance has already announced candidates for nine seats going to polls in the first two phases of the seven-phased elections.

After hard bargaining between the two major partners in the Grand Alliance — the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, finally the seat-sharing formula was announced last week, but repeated claims and counter-claims over few seats by both parties in the last three days have in fact created more problems than solving any.

The situation is turning from bad to worse in the Grand Alliance as the joining of Congress by actor politician Shatrughan Sinha, a disgruntled BJP MP from Patna Sahib seat, was put off on Thursday. Now his joining has been scheduled for April 6.

According to state Congress leaders, Shatrughan Sinha wanted full support of the RJD for contesting as a Congress candidate from his traditional seat.

Although smaller parties, including RLSP and HAM, are happy with the number of seats given to them under the the Grand Alliance’s seat-sharing arrangement, the RJD and Congress leaders have been targeting each other. This is sending a wrong message among the workers and supporters of the two parties as also damaging their image in the public.

“Realising that everything is not settled over candidates and allocation of constituencies, despite an intimation about the press conference to the media, the Grand Alliance postponed it and downplayed it saying that some Congress leaders had got delayed due to a meeting with the party high command. Now announcement of candidates and allocation of constituencies will be made on Friday,” a senior Congress leader said.

However, senior RJD leader Alok Mehta said: “All is well in Grand Alliance. All issues have been sorted out and now only a formal announcement has to be made. There is nothing like a problem or differences. You will know it tomorrow (Friday).”

To add to the woes of the Grand Alliance, senior RJD leader and former Union Minister A.A. Fatmi has expressed unhappiness over party’s top leaders remaining non-committal about fielding him from his traditional seat of Darbhanga and warned that denial of ticket to him would prove costly to the party.

Fatmi has represented Darbhanga four times in Parliament, but former BJP MP Kirti Azad, who joined the Congress recently, is keen to contest from Darbganga.

But ignoring all, the RJD has decided to field senior party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui from Darbhanga. The state Congress leaders have expressed displeasure over it. Some party leaders including legislator Ram Deo Rai reminded the RJD not to ignore the Congress.

There are some other seats, including Supaul, Madhepura and Madhubani, where the Congress and the RJD want their candidates fielded. In Supaul, Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan is facing opposition from local RJD leaders. A RJD legislator even threatened he would not support the Congress nominee.

Similarly, youth Congress leaders have also threatened not to support RJD candidate Sharad Yadav from Madhepura seat.

As per the agreement reached by the Grand Alliance constituents, the RJD will contest 20 seats and the Congress 9, while smaller parties, like Upendra Kushawaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and others, have been given the remaining seats.

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