Mahagathbandhan seat-sharing talks hit roadblock ahead of Bihar Assembly polls

Indian States0

Patna: Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) in Bihar is facing strong headwinds weeks ahead of the assembly elections with new allies seeking a greater share of the electoral pie. The RJD, which had emerged as the single largest party in the last elections with 81 seats, is finding it tough to convince its recalcitrant partners of its pre-eminence in the grand alliance. 

The RJD is aspiring to contest 150 odd seats of the 243-member assembly, but other partners are not finding it suitable to their interests. The RJD is fighting its first state polls in the absence of Lalu Prasad, who is serving time in a Jharkhand prison after conviction in multiple fodder scam cases.

Prasad’s son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav has already been declared the RJD’s chief ministerial candidate, something that has not gone down well with some alliance partners.

The Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has already deserted the coalition and returned to the ruling NDA.

Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) of former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha also followed suit. It has formed an alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to fight assembly polls in the state. 

The RLSP already said that “all is not well” in the ‘Mahagathbandhan’, which was formed its leader Lalu Prasad and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar had cobbled together to humble the BJP in the 2015 assembly polls.

RLSP chief Upendra Prasad Kushwaha was earlier camping in New Delhi where he reportedly also met top BJP leaders to finalise the modalities for his return to the NDA.

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The Congress, which has played a second fiddle to the RJD for many years, has reportedly been insisting on at least 75 seats, a demand the RJD is not prepared to concede.

Bihar Congress spokesman Rajesh Rathor refused to go public about the number of seats the party wants to contest but maintained it has definitely sought a larger share than what was being offered.

RJD’s Jharkhand partner JMM has also expressed keenness to be a part of the grand alliance and field candidates on some seats. Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren had recently met Lalu Prasad in Ranchi and the two were learnt to have discussed the issue. 

The RJD also hopes to bring on board the three Left Parties- the CPI-ML, CPI, and CPI-M. Of these, CPI-ML alone has pockets of influence and three MLAs in the outgoing assembly. 

Sources in the Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP) of Bollywood set designer Mukesh Sahni said with the number of alliance partners shrinking, the party wants to contest a respectable number of seats. As a Mahagathbandhan ally, it fielded candidates in three places in the Lok Sabha polls but had drawn a blank.

Apart from RJD’s 81, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) had won 70 seats and Congress 27. A cornered BJP had managed to clinch just 53 seats in the last Assembly election.

Notably, Bihar has 243 Assembly seats and elections in the state are due and expected in October-November as the tenure of the current Assembly will end by last November this year. 

The three-phase polls in Bihar will be held on October 28, November 3, and 7, while the votes will be counted on November 10.

(With Agency Inputs)

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