Patna: Seat sharing among Grand Alliance partners has turned into a thorny affair as most of the parties, including Congress, have been demanding a sizable seat share for general elections.
Political analysts are of the opinion that Tejashwi Yadav, the political heir of RJD chief Lalu Yadav will have to shed rigidity and take a couple of steps back in order to end brewing resentment among the alliance partners over the issue of seat adjustments in Bihar.
Sources claim that the Congress demanded a sizable share, but Mr Yadav has been reluctant. During the initial discussions, he offered only ten or fewer seats to the party.
However, Congress leaders believe that huge turnout during the Jan Akansha Rally in Patna on February 3 has given an edge to the party ahead of seat-sharing discussions with RJD and others. It is being understood that all the alliance partners would now sit together to finalise seat adjustments for the general elections.
During the rally, Congress president Rahul Gandhi while speaking about an alliance with RJD had said that the party intends to play on the front foot by contesting Lok Sabha elections in alliance with parties like RJD in Bihar.
“With leaders like Tejashwi and Lalu Yadav, the Congress will play on the front foot and always hit a six during elections,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi said during the Jan Akansha Rally in Patna on Sunday.
Sources claim that Mr Gandhi gave the statement after Mr Yadav during his speech publicly backed him for the post of Prime Minister and acknowledged Congress as the largest party in the alliance.
“You have all the qualities to be the next Prime Minister, but you should also take along all the other parties,” Mr Yadav said during the rally in Patna’s iconic Gandhi Maidan on February 2.
Analysts are also of the opinion that the face-off between West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the Centre has also played a crucial role in bringing almost all Opposition parties, including the Congress, on one platform and the impact of this could be seen during the general elections.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and other Grand Alliance partners had supported Ms Mamata Banerjee’s.
“Their coming together may also end seat-sharing crisis among the alliance partners in Bihar. RJD and Congress, however, may face a little resentment from Jitan Ram Manjhi who wants a sizable seat share to contest in the coming Lok Sabha elections,” said political observers in Patna. Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) sources claim that Mr Manjhi has been demanding at least four seats to contest in the general elections. HAM spokesperson Danish Rizwan told this newspaper that “the party wants coordination committee to decide seat sharing after analysing the strength of Grand Alliance partners in Bihar. During the initial round of talks, we have already conveyed our demands to the committee and waiting for the final round of discussions with political parties on the issue at the earliest”.
He said HAM’s political base has increased after 2015 Assembly elections and Jitan Ram Manjhi has a major stake in the Mushahar community, a sub-caste among dalits in Bihar. The community has the population of around 40 lakh and was classified among Mahadalits in 2007 by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
There have also been demands for a “respectable” seat share from RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha who had left NDA and joined the Grand Alliance in December 2018.
Mr Kushwaha with around 10 per cent voter base of his Koeri community is considered another strong player to join the alliance in Bihar. Mukesh Sahani’s Nishad community accounts for 14 per cent of the state population and the RJD’s M-Y combination forms about 30 per cent vote share (Muslims 16 and Yadav 14 per cent).
RJD and Congress-led Mahagathbandhan has nine members including Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM, NCP, Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Left parties (CPI and CPI-ML) and Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).