The seat-sharing in Bihar has created discontent among key alliance partners and their candidates as well as the parties. The first casualties of this seat sharing are those who had won their seats before but won't get to contest from the same seat again.
All is not well in the Grand Alliance in Bihar, with the seat-sharing creating discontent among key alliance partners and their candidates as well as the parties. As per the current seat arrangement, Tejashwi Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal is contesting on 19 seats, Congress on 9, Upendra Kushwaha’s RSLP on 5, Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha on 3 seats, Mukesh Sahni’s VIP on 3 seats and CPI(ML) on 1 seat.
The first casualties of this seat sharing are those who had won their seats before but won’t get to contest from the same seat again. Figuring in that list are many, but let’s begin with Congress leader Kirti Azad who quit the Bharatiya Janata Party over differences with the leadership and jumped ship to join the Congress in hopes to retain the Darbhanga Lok Sabha constituency. The three-time Member of Parliament suffered a major setback when the seat-sharing agreement announced by Tejashwi saw his worst fears come true.
Azad, the son of former Bihar Chief Minister and six-time MP from Bihar Bhagwat Jha Azad, wanted to contest from Darbhanga but can’t as this seat has gone to the RJD which has fielded Abdul Bari Siddiqui. It was also speculated that Azad could contest from West Champaran but that too is not with the Congress and has gone to RSLP. While there are reports that he may be fielded on a Congress ticket from Valmikinagar, there are reports suggesting that Azad is not too keen on the seat.
Upset with this, Azad earlier requested the central leadership to intervene but to no avail. “It is very demoralising for the entire party…not just the prospective candidate…but if one does not get a chance to contest one’s sitting seat. I would urge the top Congress leadership to take some decisive steps,” he had said.
The Congress’ Bihar unit has already expressed its displeasure at the way the party has been coerced into vacating a winning seat by the RJD. State working president Kaukab Qadri recently said that the party has got a raw deal as it was deprived of contesting from Aurangabad seat where it has a strong candidate.
The troubles for the Grand Alliance in Darbhanga do not end with Azad’s candidature. The RJD’s decision to field Siddiqui has triggered an angry reaction from party strongman MA Fatmi, a four-time MP from the seat. Fatmi, as per sources, exchanged the seat with Siddiqui who had unsuccessfully contested from adjoining Madhubani in the last elections in hopes of getting a ticket. However, that could not materialise as the Madhubani seat was assigned to the newly formed VIP. Fatmi, it is believed, is mulling a protest against the party and may even contest independently if his demands are not heard.
The discontent is not limited to only Congress. The RJD too is in trouble as Tej Pratap Yadav has openly revolted against two candidates nominated by his own party. He wants to field candidates of his choice on Jehanabad and Sheohar seats. Tej Pratap is also not happy with the party for giving a ticket to his father-in-law Chandrika Rai from Saran. The former state minister has threatened to field his people as independent candidates in Jehanabad and Sheohar.
In the last Lok Sabha elections, the RJD had won only four seats with 20 per cent vote share and Congress won just two seats with over 8 per cent vote share. The BJP swept the state by winning 22 seats with 29.40 per cent vote share. The polling for 40 parliamentary seats will happen in seven phases beginning April 11. The results will be declared on May 23.