The real problem for the Congress and the RJD is to stitch a workable seating adjustment with their three alliance partners — Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), Mukesh Sahani’s Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) — for the Bihar Assembly elections this year.
After Congress leader Rahul Gandhi earlier told party leaders in Bihar to make efforts to have a strong alliance in Bihar in the run-up to the state assembly polls this year, the party leaders have started working towards the goal.
The first significant step was taken on Wednesday night when a team of Congress leaders, including AICC in-charge for Bihar Shaktisinh Gohil, BPCC president Madan Mohan Jha, Rajya Sabha MP Akhilesh Prasad Singh and Congress Legislature party leader Sadanand Singh, attended a meeting with RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.
While both the Congress and the RJD are determined to swim or sink with each other, the real problem for the two parties is to stitch a workable seating adjustment with their three alliance partners — Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), Mukesh Sahani’s Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP).
The challenge for the Congress and the RJD is not only to keep these allies together but also not to waste too many seats on them.
In the general election last year, the RJD and the Congress together expected Kushwaha votes from the RLSP, Mallah votes from VIP and Dalit votes from HAM(S), but the three smaller parties performed miserably, failing to win a single seat.
While the RJD wishes to contest 150 of the 243 assembly seats in Bihar, the Congress would like to get around 125 seats to leave enough for rest of the partners.
While the grand old party is said to be asking for 76 seats, it may settle down for about 50-60 seats.
The Congress, however, is unlikely to settle down anything less than 50, as Rahul Gandhi, during his three-hour virtual interaction with the party’s state leadership on Friday, told them not to compromise while forming alliances for the Bihar elections.
In an apparent bid to prevent desertion from the alliance, Congress leaders also had a meeting with HAM-S president Jitan Ram Manjhi on Thursday evening. The discussion with Manjhi was held to persuade him not to break away from the grand alliance.
Manjhi is believed to have conveyed his displeasure for the RJD to the Congress. The meeting with Manjhi lasted for more than an hour. Manjhi’s party has been asking the RJD to set up a coordination committee to steer the grand alliance, which Tejashwi Yadav’s party has paid no heed to.
The Bihar elections are scheduled to be held in October-November this year.