While the RJD is in alliance with the Congress and Left parties in Bihar, Tejashwi indicated that that alliance is limited to Bihar. He also maintained that RJD’s support to Trinamool in the West Bengal Assembly polls starting later this month will not impact the the coalition with the Congress and the Left in Bihar.
The Congress and Left Front are contesting the Bengal elections together, along with newly formed Indian Secular Front (ISF) of cleric Abbas Siddiqui. In a huge rally at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade on Sunday, the parties had identified both the TMC government in the state and the BJP-led Centre as political enemies.
On choosing to side with TMC, alliances, Tejashwi said, “The scenario is different in different states – it is different in Kerala, which is again different from Bihar. Here, we are supporting TMC to defeat BJP.”
While Tejashwi did not clear the air on how many seats RJD would contest on in Bengal – “that is not the priority; we are supporting Didi with full force,” the RJD leader said – party spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari told The Indian Express: “We are looking to contest more than a dozen Assembly seats adjoining Seemanchal belt of Bihar and some parts of Jharkhand, which was a part of undivided Bihar until 2000.”
Tejashwi, Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly, said, “Our ideology is, we should not allow communal forces to come to power. In Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is fighting against communal forces. Whatever the BJP promised, it failed to deliver in Bihar despite a ‘double-engine government’ (NDA governments in both the state and at the Centre). They spoke about 20 lakh jobs in Bihar, which they failed to deliver. Now they are saying the same in Bengal.”
Stating that his party’s priority is to “stop communal forces”, Tejashwi said, “Bengal has a different culture. Wherever the BJP has gone, it has ruined that state. They don’t talk about development; they only talk about Hindu-Muslim (issues of polarisation). We need peace.”
Incidentally, Tejashwi had visited Guwahati last week and indicated that the RJD may field candidates in the Assam elections on a few seats that have sizeable population of Hindi-speakers.
Tewari today said, “Our idea is to not allow BJP to make further inroads in West Bengal, and at the same time expand to other states with parties that believe in social and economic justice.”
He also said the RJD would campaign with “full force” in West Bengal. “We have done very well in Bihar and have a good cadre in some parts of West Bengal,” he said.
Banerjee, who met Tejashwi at Nabanna, the state government headquarters, called him a young leader who was “supposed to win” in Bihar elections but “they” tricked him. Launching a tirade against the BJP, she said, “They (BJP-led NDA) won forcibly in Bihar but in Bengal, they will win nothing.”
She also appealed to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to work impartially. “We don’t want the BJP to control ECI,” she said.
Stating that the “biggest thing is support to courage”, Banerjee said, “Tejashwi-bhai is fighting, so are we, and vice-versa”.
Banerjee also wished a speedy recovery to RJD chief Lalu Prasad and said, “The way they are torturing Lalu Prasad in jail is wrong.”
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