Mahagathbandhan announces LS seat-sharing for Bihar

RJD to contest 26 seats, Congress 9, CPI(ML) Liberation 3, and CPI and CPI(M) 1 each

Bihar RJD President Jagdanand Singh and State Congress President Akhilesh Singh with CPI-ML, CPM and other leaders release Grand Alliance candidates' list for LS polls, in Patna, 29 March (photo: PTI)
Bihar RJD President Jagdanand Singh and State Congress President Akhilesh Singh with CPI-ML, CPM and other leaders release Grand Alliance candidates' list for LS polls, in Patna, 29 March (photo: PTI)


The RJD-led Mahagathbandhan in Bihar on Friday, 29 March announced its formula for seat-sharing, with Lalu Prasad's party laying claim on nearly two-thirds of the state's 40 parliamentary constituencies, virtually steamrolling allies - the Congress and three Left parties.

The RJD will be contesting 26 seats, nine more than it had fought in 2019. The Congress has got nine seats, as many as it had contested in the last elections, followed by CPI(ML) Liberation (three) and CPI and CPI(M) (one each).

The belated announcement, coming a day after filing of nomination papers for the first phase of Lok Sabha polls was over, was made at a press conference addressed by RJD national spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Jha, state Congress president Akhilesh Prasad Singh and state-level leaders of CPI(ML) Liberation, CPI and CPI(M).

Tejashwi Yadav, the Mahagathbandhan's leader in the state legislature, was scheduled to address the press conference but remained conspicuous by his absence.

Jha said names of candidates would be announced soon and claimed: "We have arrived at a unanimous decision, demonstrating a cohesiveness that you may not find in the NDA. We will defeat them at the hustings".

Notably, the RJD had fielded its candidates for the four seats of Gaya, Aurangabad, Jamui and Nawada, which go to polls in the first phase, much to the annoyance of its allies, particularly the Congress which wanted to give ticket to former MP Nikhil Kumar.

Moreover, CPI and CPI(M) have already announced their candidates for Begusarai and Khagaria seats.

According to the seat-sharing formula, the RJD has also wrested from the Congress Purnia, a seat the latter has been contesting in the past few Lok Sabha polls.

Recently, Lalu Prasad, the RJD president, gave party ticket for the seat to JD(U) turncoat Bima Bharti, stopping short of making a formal announcement.

The Congress had last week inducted Pappu Yadav, a three-term former MP from Purnea, whose wife is also a Rajya Sabha MP of the party. Yadav had been hopeful of getting the ticket from the seat claiming that an assurance to the effect was given to him by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.

There were murmurs that Prasad, whose "blessings" Yadav had sought before he went to Delhi and merged his Jan Adhikar Party with the Congress, was suggesting that the former Purnea MP try his luck from Madhepura, which he had won on an RJD ticket in 2014, or Supaul which his wife had represented more than once.

However, that option, too, seems closed as both seats have been claimed for itself by the RJD and it remains to be seen what is going to be the next move of Yadav who has been dropping hints that he will not flinch from fighting as an Independent from Purnea if the need arose.

Among the seats given to the Congress are Kishanganj, Bihar's lone Muslim-majority constituency that the party has been winning for some time, and adjoining Katihar where senior leader Tariq Anwar lost by a thin margin in 2019, having won in 2014 on an NCP ticket.

Other seats given to Congress include Patna Sahib, where the BJP has been seemingly invincible, Bhagalpur, where party MLA Ajeet Sharma wanted to field Bollywood actress daughter Neha Sharma, who has refused, and reserved constituency Sasaram, a bastion of late Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram, whose daughter and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, has won the seat a few times but reportedly excused herself this time on account of old age.

Other seats assigned to the Congress are Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, West Champaran and Maharajganj.

The CPI(ML) Liberation has been given Nalanda, a pocket borough of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose JD(U) has had an uninterrupted run on the seat for decades. The Left party has also been given Arrah, where the sitting BJP MP is Union minister RK Singh, and Karakat, which the NDA has assigned to former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Morcha.

However, the RJD has denied the CPI(ML) Liberation Siwan, where the Left party has for long been involved in a bloody feud with late strongman Mohammed Shahabuddin. Having fielded Shahabuddin's widow Hina Shahab in the last two general elections, without success, the RJD is now understood to have given up on her and looking for other candidates.

Hina Shahab has, meanwhile, received support from Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM which has said it will campaign for her if she contested as an Independent or on ticket of "a like-minded party".

The RJD has also kept with itself Saran, formerly represented by Lalu Prasad, where his Singapore-based daughter Rohini Acharya is likely to make her debut. Also in the RJD kitty is Pataliputra, where his eldest daughter Misa Bharti may again try her luck after tasting defeat two times on the trot.

A high-decibel contest seems on the cards in Hajipur, where the RJD will be challenging Chirag Paswan's bid to claim his late father Ram Vilas Paswan's political legacy, amid fears that estranged uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, the sitting MP, could play spoilsport.

RJD will also contest Munger, which it seeks to wrest from former JD(U) president Rajiv Ranjan Singh "Lalan". The party has given ticket to the wife of gangster Ashok Mahto for the seat.

Other RJD seats are Buxar, Banka, Valmiki Nagar, Purvi Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Vaishali, Gopalganj, Ujiyarpur, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Jhanjharpur and Araria

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Published: 29 Mar 2024, 4:02 PM