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  India   Politics  29 Dec 2018  Grand alliance in Bihar faces problem of plenty

Grand alliance in Bihar faces problem of plenty

THE ASIAN AGE. | NAYEAR AZAD
Published : Dec 29, 2018, 1:42 am IST
Updated : Dec 29, 2018, 1:42 am IST

The 2019 Lok Sabha battle in Bihar is going to see RJD-led nine-member grand alliance take on the three-party NDA on 40 seats.

A file photo of national president of the Vikasheel Insaan Party (VIP) Mukesh Sahni (second from left) raising hands with RJD’s leader Tejashwi Yadav and RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha after joining the grand alliance during a press conference in Patna.
 A file photo of national president of the Vikasheel Insaan Party (VIP) Mukesh Sahni (second from left) raising hands with RJD’s leader Tejashwi Yadav and RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha after joining the grand alliance during a press conference in Patna.

Patna: All eyes are set on how the RJD and Congress-led Mahagathbandhan in Bihar resolves the thorny seat-sharing issue, with nine parties vying for 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The grand alliance is busy stitching a rainbow coalition to defeat the BJP-led NDA in the general election but political observers say the going may get difficult for it due to a large number of constituents.

The nine parties in the grand alliance include the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress, Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Left parties (Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) ), Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) and Vikasheel Insan Party.

Sources said that top leaders of the grand alliance have been meeting to discuss the seat-sharing formula on the basis of caste and social combinations. However, political experts are of the opinion that “trouble may crop up in the alliance during seat adjustments”.

The interest in the grand alliance’s seat sharing formula is rooted in the NDA constituents’ announcement of their plan for 2019. The BJP and the Janata Dal (United) will contest 17 seats each, leaving the remaining six for Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).

Reports suggest that the RJD is planning to contest 2019 general elections in Bihar on the 20-20 formula. Sources said Tejashwi Yadav may meet and discuss the issue with RJD chief Lalu Yadav soon.

Sources said the RJD, being the largest party in Bihar Assembly with 80 seats, wants a 20 Lok Sabha seats and may distribute the remaining 20 seats among other coalition partners, including the Congress.

“Our goal is to stop the BJP from returning to power in 2019. Seat adjustments will be discussed during the meeting with all top leaders of the grand alliance in Bihar,” said RJD spokesperson Bhai Birendra.

Given the political scenario when the Congress has already registered a resounding victory in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan, it is unlikely that the grand old party would accept the RJD’s decision to fight the Lok Sabha elections on 20 seats.

Sources said that the RJD may offer 10 seats to the Congress, the RLSP may get five, the Left parties are likely to get two seats and the other parties may get one seat each.

The latest to join the grand alliance is Mukesh Sahni’s Vikasheel Insan Party (VIP). Mr Sahni claims that he rejected BJP’s offer of three seats and decided to join the Mahagathbandhan after meeting RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and spoke to Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the phone.

In 2015 Bihar Assembly elections, Mr Sahni had campaigned for the BJP. After the NDA lost, he developed differences with saffron leaders over his demand for the Nishad community under the SC/ST Act.

In the last two years, Mr Sahni has also been organising rallies across Bihar to unite Nishad, Mallah and Nonia communities which come under the extremely backward caste (EBC). Sources said Mr Sahni, with a sizeable support of the Nishad community, also wants a “respectable” seat share for his party.

He is the second former NDA ally to join the grand alliance after RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha.

According to political analysts, the Muslim-Yadav combination which was floated by Lalu Yadav in the 1990s has now transformed into Muslim, Yadav, Mahadalit, Nishad, and Koeri after Mr Manjhi, Mr Kushwaha and Mr Sahni entered the alliance fold.

The M-Y combination in Bihar forms about 30 per cent vote share — Muslims 16 per cent and Yadav 14 per cent. Mr Manjhi has a major stake in the Mushahar community, a sub-caste among dalits in Bihar. The community’s  population is around 40 lakh.

Mr Kushwaha, with Koeri community’s support, can influence about 10 per cent voters in the state. Mr Sahani’s Nishad community accounts for 14 per cent of the state population.

Tags: bihar grand alliance, mahagathbandhan