New Delhi: Alliance talks among Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Lok Janshakti Party appear to be finally moving forward. Congress is expected to contest 12 seats in Bihar, while Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP will contest seven, and the remaining 20 will be left to Lalu Prasad’s RJD. Congress is expected to set aside one seat, Katihar, for its NCP ally. In 2009, NCP’s Tariq Anwar had contested, and lost, from Katihar.
A Congress leader close to developments said that agreement has been reached on the number of seats each party will contest. “However, we are still working on the constituencies which Congress will contest.”
The party has identified 12 constituencies, party members said. These include Kishanganj and Sasaram, which are currently held by its members Mohammed Asarul Haque and speaker Meira Kumar, respectively. Among the other constituencies identified by the Congress are Madhubani , Sitamarhi , Jhanjharpur, Supaul, Khagaria, Bhagalpur, Jamui, Purnia, Patna Sahib and Aurangabad.
In six of the constituencies that Congress has asked for, its candidates came third after the RJD in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. This includes Madhubani, which is Congress spokesperson and former minister of state for home Shakeel Ahmad’s constituency. Though Ahmad won from this seat in 2004 and 1999, it went to the BJP in the last general elections. Ahmad garnered 111,423 votes (20% of the vote share) but RJD legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui got nearly 43,000 votes more than him. Both RJD and Congress are keen to have this seat in their kitty.
Similarly, the Congress would like Jamui as Bihar PCC chief Ashok Chaudhury contested from this constituency in 2009, although he came a distant third in the electoral race with 13.31% of the vote share to a 27.79% vote share for the RJD. “Some adjustments will have to be made, but it is a tough call,” a senior leader said.
Congress leaders say that differences notwithstanding they don’t expect a repeat of 2009. “The RJD has seen the folly of its action and they realise that an alliance with the Congress will be beneficial,” a senior leader from the state said.
Congress leaders from the Bihar state unit are insistent that they would prefer to go it alone in the state. During their interaction with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi after the AICC session in January, the Bihar leaders had made it clear that there should be no alliance and the Congress should go it alone. However, aware of the ground realities and the need for partnerships, the central unit is keen to seal its alliance with the RJD.
Courtesy: ET Bureau