The Grand Alliance on Friday announced its candidates for 34 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. No senior Congress leader was present while RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav announced the seats and nominees.
While the Congress was reportedly upset at not getting West Champaran or Madhubani seats in exchange for Valmiki Nagar, Tejashwi later said the Congress’s seats had been “cleared from its central leadership and there was no rancour in the Grand Alliance”. Click here for more election news
The RJD retained its tried and tested Muslim-Yadav combination by fielding eight OBC Yadavs and four Muslims, apart from two Scheduled Caste candidates, including its former minister Shiv Chandra Ram to take on LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan’s brother Pashupati Kumar Paras from Hajipur.
Saran seat, represented by RJD chief Lalu Prasad several times, was given to former Bihar CM Daroga Rai’s son Chandrika Rai, who is father-in-law of Tej Pratap Yadav. Lalu’s eldest daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Misa Bharti was fielded from Pataliputra opposite BJP MP Ram Kripal Yadav.
Among the RJD’s prominent Muslim faces is its former minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui, for whom it did not concede Darbhanga to the Congress. The Congress had wanted the seat for BJP MP Kirti Azad, who joined the Congress recently. The RJD also fielded Tanvir Hasan from Begusarai opposite BJP’s Giriraj Singh and CPI’s Kanhaiya Kumar.
The Congress’s list of seven candidates so far seems to have upset its social combination. The party has not been able to field any upper-caste Brahmin as it has not got a suitable seat such as Darbhanga, Madhubani or West Champaran. It has fielded two upper-caste candidates — Uday Singh, a Rajput, from Purnea seat; and Nilam Devi, wife of Mokama Independent MLA Anant Singh.
The Congress has two SC candidates — former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar from Sasaram, and Ashok Ram from Samastipur. For Patna Sahib, Shatrughan Sinha is almost certain to get a ticket. He will formally join the Congress on April 6. As for Valmiki Nagar, the Congress is trying to convince Kirti Azad to contest from the seat. Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan has been fielded from Supaul.
Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee working president Kaukab Quadri said they were “hurt by the way RJD treated the Congress”.
“Nothing has come out of the last round of negotiations between top leaders of RJD and Congress as Upendra Kushwaha (of RLSP) did not agree to exchange West Champaran with Valmiki Nagar, nor did Mukesh Sahni (VIP) concede Madhubani for Valmiki Nagar. We wonder why RJD did not give us Madhubani, one of the two Mithilanchal seats we wanted. Our first choice was Darbhanga, where Kirti Azad had a natural claim as a sitting MP crossing over to us from the BJP,” Quadri told The Indian Express. “We were treated shabbily in seat-sharing by the RJD while smaller parties were given more seats at our expense.”
He added that EBC leader Sahni was given Madhubani just because the RJD did not want to give the Congress a “winnable” seat.
Asked about his chances of contesting, Quadri said: “It is the party’s decision, but I would have loved to contest from a seat like Karakat which has a sizeable minority population. The Grand Alliance could have judged winnability factor better. What is the point of having two Kushwaha candidates in Karakat (Upendra Kushwaha) and Aurangabad (HAM (S) candidate Upendra Prasad)?”
Tejashwi, however, told reporters: “Everything is fine with the Grand Alliance. Congress’s central leadership was taken into full confidence on seat-sharing. All parties had to make compromises and adjustments.”
The other allies in the alliance, the RLSP, HAM(S) and VIP, are likely to decide candidates as per their social profiles to supplement the social base of the RJD and Congress.