With the Congress seeking to contest 16 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar and signalling that it would settle for no less than 12 seats, the RJD is working on an “alternative plan” by asking smaller Grand Alliance constituents to be prepared for an alliance minus Congress, sources said.
Most Grand Alliance constituents are willing to finalise seat-sharing before AICC president Rahul Gandhi’s Patna rally on February 3, but the Congress, which wants to use the rally to showcase its strength, wants the seat-sharing announcement after the rally.
Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav recently met SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati, who have announced an alliance in UP minus the Congress. Though Tejashwi did engage in a show of bonhomie with Bihar Congress leaders over Makar Sankranti feasts, the RJD has reportedly not committed some reserved seats such as Gopalganj to RLSP and other parties. There has been speculation about RJD offering Gopalganj seat bordering UP to the BSP if the Congress does not scale down its demand of “at least 12 seats”.
An RJD source confirmed that they were working on an “alternative plan”, though talks with Congress have not yet failed. “Just because Congress’ political stock has gone up a bit after its win in three states, it does not mean it can improve its Lok Sabha tally (two seats) in Bihar. It should put forward a realistic demand,” said an RJD leader.
Sources said the RJD had offered seven to eight seats to Congress because it has been also trying to rope in Left parties.
A senior Congress leader, however, said that RJD too could win four out of 27 seats it contested in the last Lok Sabha polls. “This is not an Assembly poll. We are the party around which regional parties should flock together. We are hoping things do not go the UP way in Bihar,” said the Congress leader, adding that “10 plus seats is a realistic demand”.
He said the party’s immediate priority was to ensure that Rahul’s rally is a grand success.
An RLSP leader said his party and Mukesh Sahni’s Vikasshil Insan Party had been asked by a top RJD leader if they would stick together with RJD if there is a Grand Alliance minus Congress. “Upendra Kushwaha has been trying to break the ice between RJD and Congress… It is good that Congress has not issued any terse statement after Tejashwi’s meeting with Akhilesh and Mayawati.”