May 18, 2024

The Bihar

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Bihar seat sharing gets tricky for Lalu, Ram Vilas Paswan, and Congress

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Patna: The Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and Lok Janshakti Party may have found common ground to form a poll alliance in Bihar, but seat sharing remains a major obstacle to overcome and the parties are likely to drive a hard bargain on at least a dozen of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats.

RJD legislature party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui, who had narrowly lost the Madhubani seat to the BJP candidate in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, has again set his eyes on this constituency. The Congress is sure to stake claim on the seat for senior party leader and former minister Shakeel Ahmad, who traditionally contests from Madhubani.

“I will certainly be hurt that if the seat goes to Congress,” Siddiqui had said publicly. Siddiqui may look for other options if the seat is given to Congress, sources close to him said. The RJD can ill afford to let Siddiqui go. He wields considerable influence among the minorities, especially in the Mithilanchal region, and ignoring him while sharing seats will come with some price for Lalu Prasad. But with the Congress unlikely to yield on Madhubani, it is going to be a very difficult situation for the RJD chief who currently runs short of the requisite political wherewithal in bargaining with Congress.

Former state Congress chief Ashok Kumar has openly lashed out at LJP head Ram Vilas Paswan for staking claim to the Samastipur Lok Sabha seat. Kumar is keen to contest from Samastipur, but the LJP chief is adamant on the seat so that he can field his younger brother, Ramchandra Paswan, from there.

“The LJP chief is blackmailing the Congress,” Kumar said. He doesn’t expect the Congress to gain in the elections from an alliance with the LJP. “The Congress should limit its alliance with the RJD only,” he added. The other seats where seat sharing would be a tricky affair are Bhagalpur, Jamui, Khagaria, Karakat, Jehanabad, Bettiah, Supaul, Aara, Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur.

The Congress would like to have in its kitty 24 seats which it can then share with the LJP and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Janata Dal (U) rebel Upendra Kushwaha. In that case, the RJD will have to remain content with 16 seats, which would not be acceptable to Lalu Prasad as leaders overlooked while handing out seats may desert the party.

“Even if Laluji were to offer 20 seats to the alliance partners, it will be politically very suicidal for the party,” a senior RJD leader told ET.

Courtesy: ET Bureau

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