Tejashwi’s UP visit aimed to further isolate Congress?

Tejashwi’s praise for the BSP and SP presidents has come at a time when the two regional outfits in Uttar Pradesh have dumped Congress, while the RJD in Bihar is struggling to reach a seat-sharing arrangement with the grand old party. PTI photo

Eyebrows have been raised in Bihar after RJD leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav showered encomiums on Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow on Monday.

Tejashwi’s praise for the BSP and SP presidents has come at a time when the two regional outfits in Uttar Pradesh have dumped Congress, while the RJD in Bihar is struggling to reach a seat-sharing arrangement with the grand old party.

Political observers here feel that Tejashwi’s support to the BSP-SP combine has the tacit backing of incarcerated RJD chief Lalu Prasad. “Knowing very well that Maya and Akhilesh have dumped Congress and forged an alliance keeping us out, Tejashwi’s whole-hearted support to the two former UP CMs is a clear message to Congress in Bihar that be prepared to be further marginalised if you try to arm-twist the RJD. Or, if you make an attempt to drive a hard bargain during seat-sharing talks, then be prepared to be isolated (much like in UP)” a senior Congress functionary told Deccan Herald here on Monday.

Also read: Mahagatbandhan seat share in Bihar deferred to Feb

Though the RJD chief Lalu has reportedly conveyed to AICC in-charge of Bihar Affairs, Shakti Sinh Gohil, that the Grand Alliance in Bihar was intact, sources in the Mahagatbandhan said that “all was not well, and, therefore, the seat pact too has been deferred to next month.”

The Congress has reportedly told Lalu since it was a Lok Sabha election in 2019, the grand old party should be given adequate seats to shore up its strength in the Parliament. The party, which contested 12 seats out of 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in 2014, has this time submitted a list of 16 candidates who want to contest as Congress nominees. This includes three such seats on which Lalu has strong objections.

Also read: Despite behind bars, Lalu neither down nor out

The first bone of contention is Madhepura from where the suspended RJD MP Pappu Yadav is Lok Sabha member. Angry with Pappu for his over-ambition, Lalu wants Madhepura seat to be given to Sharad Yadav. Pappu’s wife Ranjeet Ranjan, who is Congress MP from neighbouring constituency Supaul, has pleaded her hubby’s case with the Congress High Command.

Another point of confrontation is Darbhanga where suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad has agreed to be Congress nominee. But Lalu is willing to bet on former RJD MP from Darbhanga, MAA Fatmi.

Also read: Jail or bail, Lalu in a win-win situation

Similar is the case with Madhubani where the Congress intends to field former Union Minister Shakeel Ahmad while RJD wants its senior leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui, who lost narrowly in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

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