Priyanka effect on Cong: Yeh ‘deal’ maange more

Priyanka effect on Cong: Yeh ‘deal’ maange more

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra leaves after visiting her office for the first time following her appointment to the party post, at AICC headquarters in New Delhi on February 6, 2019. PTI

Bolstered by the entry of Priyanka Gandhi into active politics and her anointment as the party general secretary, a buoyant Congress is re-doing its maths in Bihar as well as Jharkhand.

Together, the two states send 54 members to the Lok Sabha — 40 from Bihar and 14 from Jharkhand. In order to shore up its strength, the Congress, spearheading the Mahagathbandhan, wants to contest at least 22 Lok Sabha constituencies in these two states.

“The Congress will contest at least seven seats in Jharkhand and 15 in Bihar,” said a senior AICC leader, aware of the seat-sharing talks which have reached its final stage.

“The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has agreed that the Congress should play the lead role in the tribal-state by contesting seven LS seats while the JMM would contest four seats. Of the remaining three constituencies, one seat would go to the RJD and two to the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) headed by former chief minister Babulal Marandi,” the AICC source, who was present in New Delhi where Rahul Gandhi met the Pradesh Congress presidents and the CLP leaders, told DH on Sunday.

“From its quota of seven seats in Jharkhand, the Congress may leave one seat, Hazaribagh, for the CPI as it was Bhubaneshwar Prasad Mehta (of the CPI) who had defeated Yashwant Sinha in Hazaribagh in 2004 when the latter was External Affairs Minister in Vajpayee Cabinet,” the source hastened to add. Yashwant’s son Jayant Sinha is currently BJP MP from his father’s bastion.

In Bihar too, the Congress wants a larger pie as it contested 12 seats in 2014 when it was in alliance with the RJD and the NCP. “Now with Rahul and Priyanka at the forefront, the party workers are enthused. The party may not settle with anything less than 15 seats out of 40 LS constituencies in Bihar in 2019.

“The NCP MP Tariq Anwar has already joined Congress. The suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad will join the Congress on February 15. He will contest from Darbhanga. Shatrughan Sinha is likely to join us soon. Besides, we have two sitting seats — Supaul and Kishanganj (Cong MP from Kishanganj Asrarul Haque died recently). Apart from these five seats, we have staked a claim for 10 other seats which include one for Pappu Yadav, the suspended RJD MP from Madhepura,” said the source, adding that seat pact among the constituents of the Mahagathbandhan would be “finalised soon”.