With the RJD locked in a keen contest, one question on everyone’s minds is what the Congress is bringing to the table for the Mahagathbandhan, especially given that it has been allotted 70 seats in the alliance. The party had contested 41 seats in the last Assembly polls and won 27. This huge improvement, from nine seats in 2005 and four in 2010 was attributed largely to the might of its allies JD(U) and RJD. So has the RJD given too many seats away?
Senior Congress leader Muktinath Upadhyay disputes they are a “weak link”, saying the party has a good chance in 11 of 22 seats in Champaran alone, due to the “disorientation” in upper caste votes, “anti-incumbency” and the “shift” in youth vote. With the BJP not fielding any Brahmin candidate in the Brahmin-dominated West Champaran belt, a good chunk of them might shift towards the Congress. A Congress leader points out that contrary to the view that upper castes are BJP supporters, “12 of our 16 upper caste candidates won in 2015”.
A JD(U) leader admitted that among the upper castes, the Bhumihars are seen to have turned away from the party.
The Congress is also counting on the LJP splitting the NDA vote in at least 15-20 seats.