Despite tough posturing by RJD, the Congress was able to bargain hard and get 70 seats to contest in the Assembly polls.
The Congress had contested 41 seats in 2015 elections and won 27. The JD(U) was then part of the Grand Alliance.
The RJD was said to be unwilling to give the Congress more than 60 seats, but eventually reconciled to 70 seats since it ostensibly did not want to let another ally go after RLSP and HAM(S) left Grand Alliance in the last two months over seat-sharing. Besides, the Congress has been RJD’s most trusted ally.
But the numbers in themselves may not tell the whole story — as an RJD leader said, most seats given to the Congress have sitting JD(U) and BJP members. “About 40 seats of Congress have been strong NDA areas. The RJD has done its social arithmetic before allotting these seats,” the RJD leader said, adding that there were sharp differences over seat-sharing.
Among Left parties, CPI(ML) succeeded in bargaining well. The party was allocated 19 seats due to its presence in Siwan, Arwal, Jehananad, rural Patna and Katihar, RJD leaders said. The CPI(ML) has three MLAs in the outgoing Assembly. “The RJD believes CPI(ML) would help greatly in mutual conversion of votes, unlike RLSP or HAM(S). The Left parties could be an asset to the Grand Alliance,” the leader said.
This is the first time CPI(ML) has been part of an RJD-led alliance. The party had won six seats in 2000, seven in the February 2005 Assembly polls, and five in the elections in October the same year.
It drew a blank in the 2010 elections, when NDA won 206 of 243 seats
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