How Shakeel Ahmad's Candidature From Madhubani Will Harm Grand Alliance's Prospects in Bihar
Upset after he was denied a ticket from Madhubai, which has gone to the Vikasshil Insan Party as part of the seat-sharing arrangement, Ahmad decided to contest as an Independent candidate from the Madhubani Lok Sabha constituency.

Patna: The chemistry within the grand alliance is getting murkier each day. Veteran Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad has decided to contest the election from Madhubani Lok Sabha constituency after resigning as the party spokesperson.

The opposition grand alliance in the state comprises the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), Hindustani Awami Morcha (Secular) and Vikasshil Insan Party (VIP).

“I am hopeful of the party's support and want a friendly contest in Madhubani, similar to that in Supaul,” Ahmad told News18.

Supaul MP Ranjeet Ranjan, contesting on a Congress ticket, is up against the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) Dinesh Prasad Yadav. Any defection in Yadav’s votes might lead to a defeat for Ranjan since the Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs), which comprise the biggest part of the constituency’s population, will back their candidate – JD(U)’s Dilkeshwar Kamat — along with those from the general category and SCs/STs.

Ranjeet Ranjan is the wife of don-turned-politician Rajesh Ranjan, who is better known as Pappu Yadav and is contesting as an Independent against an RJD candidate from the Madhepura Lok Sabha seat. JD(U) has fielded Dinesh Chandra Yadav from the constituency.

Pappu Yadav fell out with RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav in the run-up to the last Assembly election. He tried to be a part of the grand alliance and get a few seats for his Jan Adhikar Party Loktantrik (JAP). However, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav refused to induct the JAP into the grand alliance. He also refused to allow Pappu Yadav to contest from Madhepura on an RJD ticket.

A senior leader of RJD, on condition of anonymity, said, “Ranjeet Ranjan, a sitting Congress MP from Supaul, didn’t find favour with the grand alliance. But a phone call from a senior NCP leader and former prime minister sealed her fate in favour of contesting from Supaul.”

But RJD’s youth general secretary Ajay Singh claimed that the party would do nothing to harm the prospects of the grand alliance.

“We know that Shakeel sahib has filed the nomination but as a party, we are not supporting his candidature,” Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Sanjeev Singh told News18. “We have neither received communication from the high command nor does the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president have any information about it. So, we will abide by the grand alliance dharma.”

The grand alliance has allotted the Madhubani seat to VIP, and its candidate Badri Poorve will contest against Ashok Yadav, son of former MP Hukum Dev Narayan Yadav from the NDA. As per the seat-distribution formula, the Congress is officially contesting from nine Lok Sabha seats while 20 have been allocated to senior partner RJD. The other 11 seats have been distributed among the other allies.

Senior RJD leader MA Fathmi has also deserted the party as he wanted to contest from Darbhanga Lok Sabha seat. The party had given Abdul Bari Siddiqui the ticket.

“Fathmi and Shakeel Ahmed are conspiring against the grand alliance to defeat the RJD candidate in Darbhanga and the VIP candidate in Madhubani,” said VIP sources, claiming both leaders have collaborated as they want Ashok Yadav to win from Madhubani.

Both Fathmi and Ahmed hail from the Muslim community, which comprises a sizable population in Darbhanga as well as Madhubani.