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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Only 21 of 70 seats decided, suspense in Congress over RJD plans grows

The Congress has so far announced candidates for 21 seats, but most of the senior leaders are clueless about the rest of the constituencies that the party will contest, prompting many to wonder at the reason for the unusual secrecy.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | October 13, 2020 7:00:33 am
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Over a week after the RJD and Congress announced a seat-sharing pact for the Bihar Assembly elections, the parties are yet to reveal the full list of seats that they will contest, triggering confusion and growing resentment in the Congress ranks.

The Congress has so far announced candidates for 21 seats, but most of the senior leaders are clueless about the rest of the constituencies that the party will contest, prompting many to wonder at the reason for the unusual secrecy. Several middle-rung leaders whom The Indian Express spoke to claim that the RJD has succeeded in giving the Congress “difficult” seats.

“We focused on the numbers… insisted on 70 seats. But the quality of the seats that we have been given… at least that is what I have heard since I have not seen the full list… is doubtful. I have been told that seats where the RJD has strong candidates have been taken by it. I don’t know why the list has been kept a secret,” a senior leader said.

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For instance, sources said, the Congress is set to get the Supaul seat. State Energy Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav is the sitting MLA from here, having won in 2015 as a candidate of the JD(U) that was then with the RJD and Congress. In 2010, when Yadav had won as well, the RJD had contested the seat and had come second and the Congress third. “It is a tough seat for us,” a Congress leader said.

Similarly, leaders say the Bihariganj seat in Madhepura is coming to the Congress. The RJD had come second in that seat in 2010. In 2015, it had gone to the JD(U) as part of the seat-sharing arrangement. “Our candidate, senior leader Ranjeet Ranjan, came third in 2010,” a leader said, adding, “There is speculation that Sharad Yadav’s daughter could contest from there.” With Sharad Yadav having floated a party of his own, that would further cut into the votes.

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Another leader said, “I am told the Sonbarsa reserved seat is being given to the Congress. We had polled less than 11,000 votes there when we contested the seat in 2010. The RJD-LJP alliance candidate had come second then.”

On the other hand, Alamnagar in the same district, where the Congress had come second in 2010 and where it fancies its chances, is likely to go to the RJD.

There is already much resentment in the Congress over the Bachhwara seat going to the CPI. The seat had been won in 2015 by veteran Congress leader Ramdeo Rai, who died last month. The Congress leadership had promised his son the seat.

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The Digha seat from where state Youth Congress president Gunjan Patel wanted to contest has gone to the kitty of another partner, CPI(M-L).

A leader said the fact that every day of silence is making matters worse. “One day we are told that the Govindganj seat in Motihari is coming to the Congress. One day it is said that the RJD will contest it.”

Once its issues with partners are settled, the Congress will have in-house problems to resolve. Recently, party workers sat on a dharna at the Congress headquarters over the decision to give Gajanand Shahi the ticket from Barbigha. There have been protests where slogans like “Stop the sale of tickets” have been raised.

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