CONGRESS in Bihar is miffed at the unilateral decision taken by its ally RJD to name their candidates on both the assembly seats bound for by-elections on October 30. It’s learnt that the state leadership has already written a letter to Sonia Gandhi on the same lines.
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader in Bihar, Ajeet Sharma, talking to India Ahead, said, “We have been hurt by the RJD. We were never consulted. Kusheshwar Asthan is our seat, but without consulting us the RJD put its candidate there. Even in 2020, of the 70 seats given to us, we had contested on this seat. The RJD did not follow the gathbandhan dharma and that’s why we have now decided to put our candidates on both the seats and we will put all possible resources at our command to ensure that we perform well in this election.”
Earlier, Jagdanand Singh, RJD state president, announced the names of Arun Kumar Shah from Tarapur and Ganesh Bharti from Kushehswar Asthan seats as it’s official candidates. The Congress was caught unaware when the announcement of the candidates for both the seats was made by the RJD.
The RJD is maintaining that the alliance partners within the mahagathbandhan were consulted before the final announcement, but Ajeet Sharma vehemently denied it. Now the two alliance partners are at daggers drawn.
Further, sharp reactions came from the RJD after the so-called ultimatum given by the state Congress. RJD MLA Mukesh Roshan said, “Ultimatum nahi chalta hai yahan, decision chalta hai,” indicating that the so called “ultimatum” by the Congress is meaningless and that within mahagathbandhan, its the decision of Tejashwi Yadav which is of paramount importance.
The curt response coming from the RJD has now generated strong reactions within the Congress and it appears in no mood for concessions. The party was hopeful of retaining Kusheshwar Asthan seat, but is now left licking its wounds after being elbowed out by the RJD.
Meanwhile, the JDU has launched a scathing attack on the entire mahagthbandhan. Former JDU Minister Neeraj Kumar said, “Have the parties like the Congress and the Left been reduced to BPL category in politics that they are totally dependent on a feudal party like the RJD? The leader of Opposition lacks experience and is drunk in arrogance. The party can’t think beyond the family and they have insulted leaders like Raghuvansh Prasad and even the state president Jagdanand Singh is repeatedly being humiliated.”
Even prior to the 2020 assembly elections in Bihar the alliance partners of RJD, like Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) led by Jeetan Ram Manjhi, Mukesh Sahni’s Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) led by Upendra Kushwaha had walked out of the mahagathbandhan.
Now, an unhappy Congress wants to repay back the RJD in the same coin.
Meanwhile, the BJP claims that the strain in Congress-RJD ties is also a result of Kanhaiya Kumar’s induction into the grand old party. “The RJD is jittery over attempts by the Congress to come out of its shadow by inducting people like Kanhaiya Kumar,” BJP spokesman and national general secretary of the party’s OBC wing Nikhil Anand said in a statement.
“The RJD has, by announcing its candidates for both seats, killed two birds with one stone. It has shown the Congress its place in the state and also obviated any possibility of Tejashwi and Kanhaiya sharing the stage during by-polls,” said Anand.
Perceived rivalry between Tejashwi Yadav and Kanhaiya has been a matter of much speculation in political circles of Bihar. It is widely believed that Yadav is not very uncomfortable with the former JNU student leader, who belongs to an upper caste and is known for his crowd-pulling abilities.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when Kanhaiya was fielded by the CPI from his home town Begusarai, the RJD had nominated one of its veteran leaders Tanveer Hasan, which had caused a split in anti-BJP votes and helped Union minister Giriraj Singh to win the seat by a staggering margin of over four lakh votes. It was rumoured that the RJD went for the move since it was wary of Kanhaiya bursting on the national political scene with an electoral victory.
(With inputs from PTI)