Despite great bonhomie between Congress president Rahul Gandhi and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, the Grand Alliance in Bihar has failed to stitch a formidable pact.
Though there are around ten small and major players in the Mahagatbandhan (as the Grand Alliance is known), and numerous rounds of talks on seat-sharing have taken place in the last three months, but the deadlock persists due to rigid stand of all the stakeholders.
LIST AFTER CWC MEET
Even though the Bihar Congress president Madan Mohan Jha went to New Delhi with the list of party candidates, sources in the AICC told Deccan Herald on Friday that seat-sharing agreement would be announced only after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on March 12.
The bone of contention is the number of seats RJD and the Congress should field in the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies. While Congress wants at least 15 seats, the RJD chief Lalu Prasad, recuperating in Ranchi, feels the grand old party should not contest more than eight-nine seats due to its depleted strength. “In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Congress contested 12 seats and won two. The RJD contested on 27 seats and won four. One seat was left for NCP’s Tariq Anwar, who has now joined Congress,” explained the senior AICC functionary.
While the RJD wants a lion’s share, it has told Congress not to field muscleman-turned-politicians Pappu Yadav and Anant Singh as party nominees. Incidentally, the five-term MP Pappu was in the RJD before Lalu suspended him for anti-party activities, while Anant Singh was a JD (U) MLA before Nitish Kumar gave him the boot. Currently, Anant is Independent MLA from Mokama and is keen to be Congress candidate from Munger Lok Sabha seat.
LEFT IN THE COLD
Sources in the Mahagatbandhan said Lalu was not in favour of conceding winnable seats to either CPI or CPM too. “Lalu is of the opinion that CPI-ML has a better presence in Bihar than the CPI and CPM. Therefore, he feels that CPI should not field former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar from Begusarai. Rather, RJD wants its candidate Tanveer Akhtar, who lost by a slender margin in 2014 elections, to contest from Begusarai,” said the source.
Other seats, where deadlock persists, include Darbhanga and Madhubani where Congress wants newly-inducted member and sitting MP Kirti Azad to be the party nominee. “In Madhubani, former Union Minister Dr Shakeel Ahmad wants to contest but Lalu is adamant on fielding his trusted aide Abdul Bari Siddiqui,” said the source, adding that it would need a herculean effort to seal the Mahagatbandhan deal.