Although much of the tug of war happening between Rastriya Janata Dal and Congress in Bihar is pressure tactics applied by both parties to increase their bargaining position in seat sharing arrangements for the coming Assembly election, there are reasons behind particularly strong posture adopted by RJD. It must be made clear at the outset that the analyses which are showing ‘an imminent break up’ and ‘Congress going solo’ are mere exaggerations.
According to reports, RJD has offered Congress 58 Assembly seats along with a parliamentary seat of Valmiki Nagar where by poll is scheduled to be held with the assembly election, in the wake of demise of Baidyanath Prasad Mahto, sitting Member of parliament of JDU. On the other hand, Congress is putting its weight behind at least 70 seats.
The RJD appears to be treading carefully since despite its comparatively better strike rate in the last Assembly election, when it won 80 seats in total 101 seats it contested, it lost share in power even as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ditched it and re-joined NDA on July 26, 2017.
JDU, then a constituent of Grand Alliance won 71 in the 101 seats it fought, while Congress bagged 27 seats in 40. RJD wants this time a lion share of seats so that it can dictate terms in the post poll scenario and avoid July 26 like situation.
Moreover, few top leaders of state Congress have a soft corner for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who already enticed a number of party leaders including ex Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Chaudhry and one of the vice presidents Tanweer Akhtar along with half dozen other legislators.
Recently, a very active Congress MLA was hobnobbing with the JDU, but according to informed sources he changed his mind at the last moment after the party gave him some crucial election assignments.
A RJD source revealed to TheNewsWeb that party is wary that it may have to face the challenge of a post poll split in Congress legislature party given the prevailing factionism in BPCC.
Though it has a shallow presence on grounds yet Congress state leadership has been over ambitious as far as its demand of seats is concerned, said an analyst on condition of anonymity. In 2005 the Congress had already experimented by contesting election without RJD and the result was clear before anyone to see, he added. In contrast party high command appears to be more realistic in its assessment and has always shown its inclination towards RJD, the analyst further added.
It needs to be mentioned that on February 3, 2019 while addressing and election rally for Lok Santa election rally in Patna, the then party president Rahul Gandhi made it amply clear that Tejashwi Prasad Yadav will be the CM candidate in the Assembly election.
Shivanand Tiwary, the senior leader of the RJD summed up the party stand as follows: “Congress is a national party and it fights elections all over the country while RJD is primarily a Bihar based party which contests a handful of seats in Jharkhand. RJD has to accommodate left parties as well as Mukesh Sahni’s Vikassheel Insaaf Party from its quota. Therefore, Congress must understand that it cannot contest in alliance with RJD by throttling it.”
He added that RJD has always stood behind the Congress in it accepted the leadership of Rahul Gandhi in general election without any ifs and buts.
Congress, on the other hand, is asserting that it has prevented the grand alliance being white washed in the last Lok Sabha election when the RJD couldn’t even open its account. So how can RJD reject us of having no substantial vote bank, they ask.
Thus, the Congress is too dependent on RJD to take any decision on parting ways in spite of such assertions made by state unit of the grand old party. Analysts feel that the central leadership would eventually persuade the state leadership to fall in line and accept a compromise formula.
(Shams Khan is contributing editor at the TheNewsweb. Views are personal)