The Congress on Friday opposed the seat-sharing formula proposed by Lalu Prasad Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The Congress said that the party was confident of a win in at least 20 out of 40 seats in the Assembly. Reportedly, the Left parties also demanded 11 seats, but said they were willing to compromise on seats to defeat the NDA alliance in the state.
According to reports, the RJD " which emerged as the largest party in the last Bihar Assembly elections with 81 MLAs " proposed the seat-sharing formula for the Opposition parties.
CNN-News18 reported that the RJD prescribed 18 seats for itself, 10 seats for Congress, four seats for the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) and Left parties, two for Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and one each for LJP and Mukesh Sahni's Vikasheel Insaan Party.
However, the arrangement is speculated to have been planned under pressure as the 'mahagathbandhan' had made no headway on the issue of seat-sharing until January even as the ruling NDA alliance declared their allotments on 23 December.
BJP president Amit Shah had announced that the party would contest on 17 Lok Sabha seats as part of the NDA alliance in the state, while an equal number of seats will go to Janata Dal (United). Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Jantantrik Party (LJP) will contest on six seats.
" News18 (@CNNnews18) January 11, 2019
Opposition parties forming the grand alliance met at RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav's residence on 7 January.
News18 reported that the grand alliance's meeting was marked by "broad discussions on the respective number of seats to be fought by each constituent, and identifying constituencies best suited for each alliance partner." The report said, "They, however, added that a final agreement may be deferred till the release of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, serving sentences in fodder scam cases."
ANI quoted a party source as saying, "Lalu isn't easily available for all parties (of the potential allies) to discuss each and every issue."
The issue has been compounded because of the Congress' improvement on the electoral front after it wrested power from the BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. A Congress source said, "We are strong at national level now, considering the way we performed in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. So why should we compromise."
CNN-News18 reported that senior leaders in the alliance were relying on RJD chief Lalu Prasad to settle the differences regarding seat-sharing. On Lalu's behalf, his younger son Tejaswi is managing the party's politics but considering the seat-sharing talks, he is junior in front of leaders of the Congress and other potential allies like CPI and CPM, the source noted, according to ANI.
The report also said that two crucial issues face the 'mahagathbandhan', which are: How many seats are to be allotted to which party, and which constituencies are allotted to them.
With inputs from agencies