As the Opposition Grand Alliance announced the share of seats the partners will contest in the forthcoming Bihar Assembly elections, RJD leader and former Deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav declared himself leader of the alliance, thanking the other parties for reposing faith in his leadership, and made several promises if they form the government.
Among others, Tejashwi said the first Cabinet meeting of a Grand Alliance government, if it comes to fruition, would announce 10 lakh government jobs for the state’s youth.
The media conference, attended by leaders of the other alliance partners, was not without its share of drama. Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) chief Mukesh Sahni, whose party’s share of seats was not announced, said towards the end of joint press conference that he was “betrayed” by Tejashwi. Sahni walked out of the press meet and told reporters that his party could no longer be part of the Grand Alliance.
The VIP had been demanding 20-plus seats but was assured of about 10 seats, it is learnt.
VIP’s walkout has potential to hurt
Mukesh Sahni’s Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) walking out of the Grand Alliance could hurt the Opposition since the EBC leader has sizeable influence among Sahni Mallahs, which constitute about 2 per cent of the state’s population.
Addressing the media in the state capital, the RJD leader said the Congress would contest on 70 seats, besides the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha by-election, while the three Left parties will fight from 29 constituencies: CPI(ML) from 19 seats, and the CPI and CPI(M) six and four seats, respectively.
The RJD, which kept 144 seats for itself, would accommodate two other allies JMM and VIP [before Sahni’s move in protest] from its share, he announced.
Tejashwi said: “I thank all the allies for reposing faith in my leadership. I assure that I would live up to their expectations. We will try to offer a strong alternative. The double-engine government (of Nitish Kumar) has been in ICU…. If we are voted to power, we will give 10 lakh government jobs in the very first Cabinet meeting.”
Taking on Nitish Kumar, he said the government under him has failed to tackle issues of poverty and unemployment. “No factory opened (in the state), farmers are being exploited. This government failed to stop migration (of workers to other states). If people give us one chance, we will try to regain the lost pride and glory of Bihar,” he said.
Tejashwi also said government job vacancy forms would be given free of cost.
Emphasising that alliance partners had made some sacrifice in seat-sharing, he assured them of an electoral victory: “I assure you it (sacrifice) would not go waste.”
Congress screening committee chairman Avinash Pandey said: “Nitish Kumar had betrayed the mandate (received by the Grand Alliance in 2015); the people will not forgive him. Nitish Kumar had been insensitive towards migrants, denying return of his own people (to Bihar)…. Tejashwi-ji had done well as deputy CM and had become the voice of the deprived.”
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