Patna: With many Bihar Congress leaders complaining of not getting a fair deal, the Opposition’s Grand Alliance for the coming Lok Sabha elections seemed headed towards a crisis on Thursday. (Also read: ‘Priyanka Says Will Contest Elections if Party Wants’)
The Grand Alliance, comprising the RJD, Congress, RLSP, HAM (S) and VIP has announced the names of nine candidates so far.
Former test cricketer Kirti Azad, who joined the party recently, told PTI, “It is indeed very demoralising for the entire party, not just the prospective candidate, if one does not get a chance to contest one’s sitting seat. I would urge the top Congress leadership to think clearly and take some decisive steps.”
The cricketer-turned-politician, also the sitting MP from Darbhanga, has had to deal with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) trying to wrangle the seat. Now Azad was a BJP member till he walked into the Congress camp so his candidature from his home constituency was a given.
The RJD had lost the seat by a thin margin in 2014 and is now pushing the candidature of its Abdul Bari Siddiqui, citing the sizeable Muslim population in the constituency.
As far as the seat-sharing arrangement is concerned, the RJD will field candidates in 20 seats, Congress in nine, Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) in three, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) in five, Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP) in three.
Another Congress leader having to deal with RJD arm-twisting is Supaul MP Ranjeet Ranjan. She has reportedly been threatened by Supaul district RJD chief and MLA Yaduvansh Kumar Yadav that he would prop up another candidate against her.
Ranjan is the wife of Pappu Yadav who had won the seat of Madhepura in 2014 as an RJD candidate but was expelled by Lalu a year later. He has been trying for inclusion in the grand alliance, heaping praise on the Congress and Lalu Prasad-led RJD.
The RJD has, however, announced that it would be fielding Sharad Yadav from Madhepura.
Meanwhile, Congress state unit working president Kaukab Qadri also said that the party was getting a raw deal in the state. “We have undeniably been given a raw deal in the first two phases. We were deprived of a chance to contest Aurangabad, which was given to a nondescript outfit like HAM led by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi,” he was quoted as saying.
“As per the tentative arrangements for the remaining seats, we will be getting none except Sasaram in south Bihar. I have, therefore, urged the party high command to push for my candidature from Karakat.
However, Karakat is the sitting seat of RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha, to which Qadri said, “We were coerced into giving up Aurangabad, which is adjacent to Karakat and where we had a strong candidate in former MP Nikhil Kumar. The seat went to Upendra Prasad, a Kushwaha leader from Manjhi’s party. It would send a very wrong signal if two Kushwahas get tickets from two adjacent seats. The RLSP chief has been allocated five seats, far in excess of his political heft.”
Meanwhile, Tejashwi Yadav has cancelled his rallies in Jamui, Banka and Katihar Lok Sabha segments, though party sources said not much should be read into it and it was because of his ill-health.