RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s suggestion to the Congress that it must focus on 200-odd Parliamentary seats on which it is in direct fight with the saffron party seems to have put the alliance between the two parties in Bihar under stress.
Yadav, in a recent interview to news agency PTI, suggested that the Congress must focus on 200-odd parliamentary seats in which it is in direct battle with the BJP while taking a “backseat” in states where regional parties are dominant players.
This seems to have strained the relationship between the RJD and the Congress, amid the latter’s decreasing vote share in the state. The two parties have been in alliance since 2000, barring the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
On Tuesday, the Congress and RJD sparred on social media with Congress’ national convenor, social media department, Sardar Patel telling Yadav: “Congress doesn’t need your advice, keep your advice to yourself”.
Reacting to Patel’s tweet, RJD’s social media convenor Aakash said, “Yes, that’s right! The Congress is so capable of thinking what it should do that it is fighting war against NOTA in the elections.”
“This arrogance has brought it to even less than NOTA,” he said, apparently referring to the Congress’ crushing defeat in the recently-held Bochaha assembly bypoll that was won by the RJD.
“Do you have even 1 per cent ability to decide something on Bihar or on this issue or are you sharing knowledge unnecessarily,” the RJD leader asked.
The poll data, quoted by The Indian Express, shows that the Congress’ vote share in Bihar has been continuously declining since the 2020 Assembly elections, when it managed to win only 19 seats out of the 70 seats it contested even as the RJD emerged as the single largest party by bagging 75 out of 144 seats it contested.
Lately, several RJD leaders have held the Congress responsible for their party stopping short of a majority in the polls.
Last year, the rife between the two alliance partners was left wide open in public after the RJD rejected Congress’ set-sharing offer during the bypolls to the Kusheshwar Asthan and Tarapur Assembly seats.
“Why should we give the seat to Congress? So that they would lose? So they would lose their deposit?” RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav had then said. The rift was, however, resolved to some extent then after Congress president Sonia Gandhi dialled Lalu to enquire about this health.
However, the RJD had then finished a close second in both the seats, behind the Janata Dal (United), with the Congress candidates unable to poll even 5 per cent votes in each constituency. The grand old party’s losing streak continues in 2022, with its candidate failing to garner even one per cent vote in the Bochachan Assembly seat bypoll, in which the RJD won.
The RJD lost its status of single largest party in March this year after three MLAs of Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), led by Bihar minister Mukesh Sahani, jumped ship to the BJP making it the single largest party in the state.
With the three VIP MLAs joining the BJP, saffron party’s tally in the state assembly has risen to 77 from the existing 74. It has now become the single largest party, overtaking the RJD, which has 75 MLAs. The JD(U) has 45 MLAs, the Congress 19 and the Lefts parties have 15 MLAs.
Yadav on Monday had called for firming up of an Opposition alliance to take on the BJP in the 2024 general elections, suggesting that the Congress must focus on over 200 seats on which it is in direct fight with the saffron party, while taking a “backseat” in states where regional parties are a formidable force.
Asked if it is high time that an alliance to take on the BJP in 2024 takes shape and whether the Congress should be its main pillar, Yadav told PTI that since 2019 June, he has been saying that the Congress is in direct fight with the BJP on more than 200 seats and must focus on these to ensure that it wins at least 50 per cent of them.
“I have always opined that for a broader and united alliance at the national level, the Congress should be pragmatic and take a backseat in those states where regional parties are a formidable force and have a better chance of winning against the BJP,” he had said.
A widely accommodative platform with a commitment from parties that their politics shall be guided by the ‘preamble’ of the Constitution and nothing else, should be developed, Yadav had said.