Patna: Opposition RJD led Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) allies, including Left parties, have finally clinched a seat-sharing agreement for the Bihar Assembly polls, which is less than a month away.
As per Grand Alliance seat-sharing deal, Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD will contest 146 of 243 Assembly seats, Congress will contest 68 seats and Left parties will contest from 29 seats. RJD will share its own seats with the Vikassheel Insaan Party of Mukesh Sahni,who projects himself as a son of a mallah (boatmen-fishermen) and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren.
This much-awaited seat sharing deal of the Grand Alliance was appeared headed for a deadlock till Thursday evening.
RJD leader Shakti Singh Yadav said a formal announcement on seat sharing formula would be announced at a joint press conference in a day or two. ”We have finally reached an agreement. All allies of Grand Alliance have finalised seat sharing,” he said.
The talks went on till late night on Thursday, and thanks to the political maturity of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav the deal was clinched. Similarly, there was direct intervention of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, who held talks with Congress and RJD leaders in Delhi on Thursday night, sources said.
Congress leaders here said that the seat sharing deal with RJD was final and once the party high command approves the formula, it would be made public.
According to the seat-sharing formula, Left parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), will contest from four seats, Communist Party of India will contest from six seats and CPI(ML) will contest from 19 seats. Left parties were keen on contesting alongside the Grand Alliance to defeat ruling National Democratic Alliance.
CPI (ML) leader Dhirendra Jha told NewsClick that the party would contest three seats each in Siwan, Bhojpur and Patna districts, where it has traditional strong pockets. Besides from seats in other districts where the party enjoy social support among landless farmers, smallholding farmers, working class and marginalised sections.
Unhappy and disappointed over RJD’s stand not to give more than 12 seats, on Wednesday, the CPI (ML) had released its list of 30 candidates for the polls, indicating its decision to contest alone.
But Tejashwi Yadav on Thursday asked his party top leaders to hold fresh talks with CPI (ML) leaders on the seat sharing formula. After two rounds of talks, RJD leaders invited CPI (ML) leader Bhattacharya to the official residence of former Chief Minister Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav for a talks on Thursday night. ”Both party leaders held hours-long talks and reached an agreement over seat sharing”, Jha said.
The CPI (ML), which has three sitting MLAs in the Assembly, has a strong pocket of support in nearly four dozen Assembly seats in over a dozen districts across the state. The party initially wanted to contest from 53 seats but later changed its stance and demanded to contest at least 20 seats.
According to sources within the party, talks between RJD and the CPI (ML) ended without a decision on seat-sharing earlier this week. The latter was not ready to give up its claim on seats, given its stronghold over Jagdishpur, Sandesh, Ara in Bhojpur district, Paliganj in Patna district, Obra in Aurangabad district and two seats in Siwan district.
The RJD has reportedly agreed to give four seats to the CPI (M) and six seats to CPI.
In the last Assembly polls in 2015, when the political situation was different, then RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had joined hands along with Congress and contested polls together. They won and defeated the BJP-led NDA. But in 2017, Nitish Kumar dumped RJD and joined hands with BJP and formed the government that is continuing till date.
However, the popularity graph of Nitish Kumar has hit a low, people are angry and unhappy with his government. Anti- incumbency is visible all around with people expressing their anger on the streets. Similarly, issues of joblessness, price rise, reverse migration and the new farm laws are sure to impact the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA in the polls.
The Grand Alliance, along with Left parties, is set to give a real political challenge to NDA in polls, as it has been raising different issues that affect everyone, said sources. RJD, Congress and Left parties have been raising issues, such a joblessness. Both RJD and Congress have also received an unexpected response on their respective online platforms from jobless youths. More than 10 lakh jobless youths have registered themselves with RJD’s dedicated portal launched on September 5, courtesy a toll-free number. Similarly, more than four lakh jobless youths registered with the Bihar Pradesh Youth Congress (BPYC) portal.
The Grand Alliance has also been raising issues such as education, poor health infrastructure and flood victims’ issues that are resonating with the people.