While the anti-NDA Opposition alliance in Bihar is struggling to resolve internal differences over the projection of RJD chief Tejashwi Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate, there are demands within the Congress that it should try and exploit the fissures in the NDA camp and perhaps reach out to Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held a virtual meeting with top leaders of the Congress in Bihar to assess the party’s preparations for the Assembly elections and directed the party leadership to sort out the alliance issues by the end of July.
While leaders of the alliance partners have held one round of meetings, smaller parties such as former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM(S), Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP, and Mukesh Sahni’s Vikas-sheel Insaan Party (VIP) have still not agreed on Tejashwi Yadav as the CM candidate.
Sources in the Congress said talks with Left parties — CPM and CPI — are underway and a final decision is expected soon.
Meanwhile, Gandhi’s meeting with the Bihar leadership on Friday saw one of the senior leaders suggest that the party needs to be more aggressive.
Rajya Sabha MP Akhilesh Prasad Singh did some plain-speaking, saying that the BJP and JD(U) are engineering defections while the pandemic and lockdown has forced the Congress to curtail its activities, sources said. While mentioning Jyotiraditya Scindia’s exit and the defection of five RJD MLCs to the JD(U), Kumar said all is not well in the NDA and the Congress should establish contact with those who are unhappy. His reference was to the LJP, which has signalled that it is not comfortable with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
LJP national president Chirag Paswan has said that the party’s alliance in 2014 was with the BJP and not with the JD(U). The JD(U) became part of the NDA again in 2017 when Kumar walked out of the alliance with the RJD and Congress and joined hands with the BJP. Besides, the LJP argues its alliance is at the national level and state politics is different.
Singh, it is learnt, also told Gandhi that he had told a senior Congress leader three months ago that three MLAs of the JD(U) are interested in joining the Congress. “But he (the senior leader) has not come back to me. There is no direction whether I should get in touch with them or not… I don’t know whether this information has reached you… we cannot do politics like this,” Prasad said. “All is not well within the NDA… but somebody should open a channel of communication with them,” Prasad is learnt to have said.
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