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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Bihar elections — RLSP, BSP, AIMIM: hint of a third front

The move is being steered by Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP). Days after Kushwaha made clear that he would not accept the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav in the RJD-led alliance, he is learnt to have met leaders of the BSP in Patna Monday.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | September 29, 2020 12:50:44 am
Bihar bypolls, Bihar elections, bihar opposition alliance, upendra kushwaha, tejashwi yadavUpendra Kushwaha

AMID RUMBLINGS in the ruling NDA and the RJD-led Opposition alliance in Bihar, with one month left for the Assembly elections, there are signs of a possible third front taking shape with a group of smaller parties trying to stitch together an electoral tie-up.

The move is being steered by Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP). Days after Kushwaha made clear that he would not accept the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav in the RJD-led alliance, he is learnt to have met leaders of the BSP in Patna Monday.

Sources said Kushwaha has also held talks with Pappu Yadav, who heads the Jan Adhikar Party, and is in touch with Mukesh Sahni’s Vikas-sheel Insaan Party, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM and Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party.

“Talks with the smaller parties are at an advanced stage,” said RLSP sources. Kushwaha has already signalled his exit from the RJD-led alliance, with his party leaders claiming that there are offers from the NDA, too.

The tie-up move comes at a time when the Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP’s muscle-flexing is causing tensions in the BJP-JD(U) alliance. All is not well in the RJD-led Opposition alliance, either, as the parties are nowhere near announcing a seat-sharing pact.

However, sources in the Congress, which is part of the main Opposition alliance, said many of the moves by the smaller parties can be posturing to secure more seats to contest.

All of these smaller parties have a limited electoral presence in the state.

The BSP, for instance, managed to get only 2.07 per cent votes in the last Assembly elections but has some presence in areas like Sasaram, Buxar and Aurangabad. The party had finished a close second in one seat but managed to poll between 10,000 to 20,000 votes in as many as 12 seats.

The RLSP is banking on the calculation that the Kushwaha (Koeri) population has a sizeable presence in many of the reserved seats. Koeris are estimated to constitute about 8 percent of the state’s population.

Mukesh Sahni, meanwhile, is learnt to be “negotiating hard” with the RJD. He is said to be seeking an assurance that he would be made Deputy Chief Minister if the RJD-Congress alliance comes to power. Sahni belongs to the Nishad community, which has a sizeable presence across the state.

Yadav’s JAP, too, had cornered around 1.35 per cent votes.

The AIMIM contested only six seats in the last Assembly elections. But it managed to open its account last year winning the Kishanganj bypoll. The party has already announced that it would contest in alliance with Devendra Prasad Yadav’s Samajwadi Janata Dal (Democratic).

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