October 5, 2021 4:38:17 am
Grand Alliance partners RJD and Congress are seemingly on a collision course, with both set to field candidates on Tarapur (Munger) and Kusheshwar Sthan (Darbhanga) seats going to by-elections on October 30.
While Congress leaders have accused RJD of taking a unilateral decision of putting up candidates in both seats, the RJD considers its candidates possess what it takes in electoral politics – “winnability”.
In 2020 Assembly polls, RJD had contested Tarapur seat unsuccessfully against JD (U), and Congress lost Kusheshwar Sthan seat to BJP.
By-elections were necessitated by the death of Kusheshwar Sthan MLA Shashibhushan Hazari (BJP) and Tarapur MLA Mewalal Choudhary (JD-U).
On Sunday, RJD named Ajay Kumar Sah for Tarapur and Ganesh Bharti for Kusheshwar Sthan seats. This triggered an immediate reaction from the Congress, which was set to declare its candidate from only Kusheshwar Sthan.
Congress Legislature Party leader Ajit Sharma said: “We were shocked. Our senior leader, Ashok Ram, lost from Kusheshwar Sthan by just over 7,000 votes to BJP’s Shashi Bhushan Hazari.” He said RJD had not consulted either Bihar Congress leaders or AICC’s Bihar in-charge Bhakt Charan Das, or even the party’s central leaders before taking the decision. “Now we will also field candidates from both seats,” he said.
Sharma also said RJD had not followed the “gathbandhan dharma (alliance principles).
RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari, however, said: “Winnability is the most important criterion in elections. RJD national president Lalu Prasad and the state leadership decided to contest both seats after due consultation with the Congress.”
On state Congress’s denial of any consultation, Tewari said, “There are a handful of leaders, like Shakil Ahmed Khan, who have problems with this. Khan accuses us of having a tacit understanding of BJP. We can also accuse the Congress of being too close to Nitish Kumar…. Vote hamara, candidate tumhara (our votes and your candidate) will not do anymore.”
Tewari said analysis of the voting trend in 2020 polls had shown that RJD could have won several seats that the Congress contested.
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