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Thursday, December 03, 2020

Bihar: 12 seats short, RJD sends out feelers to smaller parties

While the source admitted that the party has not got any positive response so far, “our channels will remain open”. The RJD source said Mukesh Sahani wants to become deputy CM and RJD could make him exactly that.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | November 12, 2020 2:48:46 am
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s residence in Patna on Wednesday. (ANI)

WHILE THE NDA has been voted back to power with 125 seats, three more than what’s required for a simple majority in the 243-seat Assembly, the RJD-led Grand Alliance hasn’t given up hope and is in touch with at least two of its former allies who are now in the NDA camp.

The RJD has ended up with 110 seats and needs 12 more to get to the winning number in the Assembly, which, sources said, it can get if it gets the AIMIM (with five seats) and two NDA partners, the Mukesh Sahani-led Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), on its side.

Though Sahani himself lost from Simri Bakhtiarpur, his party VIP and Manjhi’s HAM(S) have four seats each. The two parties were with the Mahagathbandhan and had switched over to the NDA just before the elections.

An RJD source said, “What is the harm in making an attempt? If VIP and HAM(S) come to us, we can ensure they get a very good deal, much better than what the NDA can offer them. The AIMIM is in any case willing to support us.”

While the source admitted that the party has not got any positive response so far, “our channels will remain open”. The RJD source said Mukesh Sahani wants to become deputy CM and RJD could make him exactly that.

A source in the VIP confirmed RJD’s offer but indicated that a switch was unlikely. “We are being offered Deputy CM and a ministerial berth. We discussed it with our leaders. But we are happy with the NDA that gave us respect when the RJD discarded us. Plus, if we do a flip-flop so soon, it could send out a wrong message to our cadre.”

A HAM(S) leader too confirmed an offer from the RJD. “There is no question of going back to them. We have not yet forgotten our insult. The NDA will take good care of us.”

AIMIM Bihar president Akhtarul Aiman said, “We will do whatever needs to be done to stop divisive forces from coming back to power. It is true that people’s mandate should be respected, we will respect it and decide accordingly.”

An RJD leader admitted to some tactical “mistakes”, among them, letting the VIP walk out of the Grand Alliance and overestimating the Congress. “VIP proved that it has a fair chunk of EBC votes. It was the Congress that proved to be a baggage for us. It would have much better if we had given some more seats to the Left parties,” said the leader, admitting that the party was “devastated” that it was so close, yet so far from victory.

The RJD leader said they would keep working on the NDA’s “vulnerabilities”. “Even Nitish Kumar is vulnerable now. We will wait for just the right opportunity,” said the leader.

No senior RJD leader, however, went on record on whether they see the JDU returning to the Mahagathbandhan fold.

Meanwhile, in a tweet on Wednesday, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh invoked Nitish Kumar’s secular and socialist credentials and asked him to “bless” Tejashwi. Tweeting in Hindi, Singh, comparing the BJP/ Sangh to amarbail (parasitic plants), said, “Desert BJP/RSS ideology and bless Tejashwi. Do not allow this amarbail in the form of the BJP to flourish in Bihar.” In another tweet, the Congress leader asked Nitish to be a part of national politics and work towards strengthening secular and socialist politics.

JD(U) national spokesperson K C Tyagi, however, dismissed Singh’s tweets and told The Indian Express: “Digvijaya Singh is known for making sensational remarks. We are very much secular and socialist…. We are in the NDA as a valuable ally and do not need anyone’s advice.”

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