Bihar Mahagathbandhan: Congress seeks more, RJD, smaller allies wait

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A seat for Kirti Azad, who recently joined the Congress, is one sticking point. (Express)

AS THE Congress and RJD work out their Mahagathbandhan in Bihar, smaller parties have accused the former of dragging its feet on finalising the seat-sharing.

Parties such as the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Vikasshil Insaan Party (VIP) and Loktantrik Janta Dal (LJD) have more or less settled their deals with the RJD, but the Congress is taking its time with its demand of "12-13" seats. The RJD is reportedly not willing to give it more than "eight-10 seats", of the total 40 in the state.

Though the Congress and RJD publicly talk of being close to a seat-sharing arrangement, the smaller parties say there is a delay on account of the Congress.

The seats which are posing the most problem are Darbhanga, Munger and Purnia. The Congress wants Darbhanga for Kirti Azad, the sitting MP from the seat who just crossed over from the BJP to the Congress. It is demanding Munger for Mokama Independent MLA Anant Singh and Purnia for Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) leader and rebel Madhepura MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav.

Noting that this is not so easy for the RJD, a party leader said, "We had brought VIP chief and EBC leader Mukesh Sahni into the Mahagathbandhan assuring him Darbhanga seat, where he wants to contest from. The Congress should accommodate Azad from some other seat, either in Bihar or Jharkhand."

The RJD top leadership has been opposing the candidature of Anant Singh because of his controversial record. Singh faces several criminal charges and has the image of a muscleman.

The RJD is also opposed to Pappu Yadav standing on a ticket of the front as he had rebelled from the RJD after winning from Madhepura on its ticket.

Pappu's wife Ranjeet Ranjan is the Congress MP from Supaul, and he has for long been trying to get a ticket from the party. "As Sharad Yadav is set to contest from Madhepura as his party LJD's candidate, Pappu Yadav wants to avoid a fight with him because of the Mahagathbandhan (which Sharad Yadav is a part of). Pappu wants the Congress ricket from Purnia," said the Congress leader.

The Congress has been demanding 12-13 seats on the strength of the two seats won by it in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Kishanganj and Supual, and the two sitting MPs now in its fold (Kirti Azad and former NCP leader Tariq Anwar).

However, the RJD has been pushing back, citing that the Congress has only won two seats in two successive Lok Sabha polls in the state and lost in other seats by fairly big margins.

An RLSP leader hoped that things will work out. "Our leader Upendra Kushwaha has been trying to mediate between the RJD and Congress over seat-sharing. There is no confusion from our end. All smaller parties minus Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM (S) have no issues with seat-sharing."

Manjhi is being offered Gaya seat, but he wants more, which the RJD may not concede.

Sources said while the RLSP is being offered four-five seats, the VIP has been offered two. Sharad Yadav's LJD may get one seat for him while another party leader may contest on the RJD symbol.

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