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Bihar: Left Parties, Key Allies of Opposition INDIA, Eyeing a Dozen Seats in Bihar in 2024 Polls

Leaders of Left parties have conveyed to top leaders of Mahagathbandhan the need for fair share in seat allocation to effectively challenge BJP.

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: Left parties, crucial allies of Bihar's ruling Mahagathbandhan coalition, a part of the opposition alliance Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), are aiming to contest a dozen seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Bihar. Leaders of the Left parties have conveyed to the top leaders of Mahagathbandhan the need for a fair share in seat allocation to effectively challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Amid the ongoing seat-sharing negotiations among INDIA opposition block parties to finalise the arrangement, the Left parties are claiming more seats for contesting in the state. This move is perceived as a strategic message to ensure that Left parties are not overlooked and are granted adequate seats.

This time, Left parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation (CPI(ML), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M), and Communist Party of India (CPI), are prepared to jointly contest the Lok Sabha polls as part of the opposition block INDIA, in contrast to the 2019 and 2014 elections.

The CPI(ML), recognised as a potent political force with 12 MLAs in the state assembly and significant support across various districts, especially in rural areas, has emphasised that the Left parties should not be ignored.

The CPI(ML) has demanded five seats, CPI(M), with two MLAs, has requested four seats, and CPI, with two MLAs, has sought three seats for contesting. During a recent meeting with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, the CPI(ML) leaders disclosed their decision to contest from Ara, Patliputra, Siwan, Karakat, and Jehanabad seats.

Similarly, CPI(M) State Secretary Lalan Choudhary and the party's two MLAs met Tejashwi Yadav to stake a claim on four seats, including Khagaria, Ujiyarpur Samastipur, and Maharajganj. CPI State Secretary Ramnaresh Pandey stated that the party has decided to contest from three seats, including Begusarai, Banka, and Madhubani.

Political observers here view this as part of the Left parties' strategy to exert pressure before the formalisation of seat sharing within the INDIA opposition block.

In the previous elections, CPI(ML) contested four seats, including the Ara parliamentary seat, and CPI contested the Begusarai seat. While the RJD supported CPI(ML) on the Ara seat, there was competition between RJD and CPI on the Begusarai seat, resulting in a victory for the BJP candidate and Union Minister Giriraj Singh.

Recent reports suggested that the major allies Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) and RJD are likely to contest the majority of the 40 parliamentary seats in the state, leaving a smaller share for Congress and Left parties in the seat-sharing arrangement for the upcoming parliamentary polls.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, also the JD-U president, and RJD chief Lalu Prasad have reportedly formulated a winning formula to prevent the BJP-led NDA from replicating its 2019 success in Bihar. According to the formula, JD-U and RJD will contest 16 or 17 seats, with Congress receiving four to six seats and the Left parties getting one to two seats.

JD-U leaders have consistently emphasised in the past week that the party will not compromise on contesting less than 16 seats, the number it won in the previous elections. In the last Lok Sabha elections, JD-U contested in alliance with the BJP and won 16 seats out of 17.

Left party leaders argue that traditionally, Left parties have a presence in Bihar, and the CPI used to be a dominant political force. Even now, they hold certain pockets of strongholds and social support bases, visible during protests and rallies.

Political commentator D M Diwakar noted that Left parties collectively have a strong support base in at least a dozen Lok Sabha seats, where they can influence the poll outcome. Diwakar, a former director of the AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna, highlighted the significance of left parties in shaping the balance in favour of or against any candidate in some seats.

Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, and Tejashwi Yadav have consistently assured that there will be no issues in seat-sharing arrangements among allies in the state. On Thursday, Nitish Kumar stated that everything would be done on time and advised, without naming the BJP, not to worry.

Lalu Prasad Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav and senior RJD leader Bhai Virendar mentioned that seat-sharing had been decided, and a formal announcement would be made soon. Tejashwi Yadav assured the media on Friday that seat-sharing arrangements would be made smoothly, considering it an internal matter of the INDIA opposition bloc, and would be revealed to the media at the appropriate time.

In the previous Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-led NDA secured 39 out of 40 parliamentary seats, with the Congress winning only one seat and the RJD failing to secure any seats—a significant setback for the party. However, the ground situation is different this time, with JD-U and RJD being key allies within the ruling Mahagathbandhan, including the Congress and three Left parties- CPI(ML), CPI(M), and CPI, holding significant political influence in Bihar compared to the BJP-led NDA.

Since August 2022, when Kumar broke ties with the BJP, formed the Mahagathbandhan, and assumed power, he has consistently urged all opposition parties to unite for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections to defeat the BJP.

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