The grand alliance remained undecided as ever on seat allotment Thursday, with fresh complications coming up. Emerging EBC leader Mukesh Sahni, who heads the nonpolitical Nishad Vikas Sangh, has announced his support to the alliance, leaving many RJD and JD(U) leaders worried if that would mean losing the nominations they were hoping for. The JD(U) will also need to accommodate some leaders who have crossed over from the BJP.
Sources said between 12 and 20 sitting MLAs may be dropped. A JD(U) leader said at least 15 may be dropped by that party alone. “We are discussing it district-wise, seat-wise and region-wise. We are also looking at who our opponents are fielding. Since we have about 100 MLAs despite Jitan Ram Manjhi taking away 19, it may not be possible to accommodate some 15 people,” the source said.\
Which party contests where, meanwhile, remains undecided in the wake of Lalu Prasad’s demands. The Congress, which is upset with the RJD for the “delay” in deciding the former’s 40 seats, put the onus on CM Nitish Kumar. The Congress has an “alliance with the JD(U)”, a leader said. The Congress has demanded seats in every region, particularly Seemanchal, Kosi and Mithilanchal.
RJD Jagdishpur MLA Dinesh Kumar Singh, who has defied Lalu earlier, sat on a dharna Thursday. An RJD leader said, “We are in a new phase of social equations after the NDA split. We are looking at two or three names from each seat and the social composition will play a key role in deciding each ticket.”
The JD(U) and the RJD are bickering over half a dozen seats including Rajapakad and Raghopur. With Lalu Prasad’s younger son Tejaswi giving clear hints of contesting from the latter seat, represented by Rabri Devi until 2010 when the JD(U) won it, the JD(U) is caught in a bind. Sitting Raghopur MLA Safish Kumar is not willing to forgo his seat. “Tejaswi and Safish have both been asked to look for an alternative seat. Raghopur presents a Catch-22 situation,” said a JD(U) leader close to the CM.
There is, however, no indecision over Mahua, from where Lalu’s elder son Tej Pratap is set to contest. The seat was won by Ravindra Rai, who is now in Manjhi’s camp.
No Nitish, Lalu at Rahul rally
The RJD and the JD(U) made it clear Thursday that neither Lalu nor Nitish will attend Rahul Gandhi’s rally in West Champaran Saturday. Tejaswi will represent the RJD and national spokesperson K C Tyagi the JD(U). There had been talk about the Congress being uncomfortable with the idea of Rahul sharing the dais with Lalu, and about Nitish being hesitant about attending an “all-Congress show”. Tyagi told The Indian Express: “The party has authorised me to attend Rahulji’s rally. There was never any talk of the CM attending the rally.”