Bihar: Mahagathbandhan talks "almost" over, Congress gets 11 seats
The seat-sharing arrangement among the Opposition parties in Bihar has almost been finalized with Congress agreeing to contest on 11 seats, claimed reports. Congress and RJD had been talking for weeks now but couldn't arrive at a conclusion. While the grand old party wanted to contest on 15 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, RJD wasn't ready to budge. Here's what happened.
Congress threatened to go solo in polls
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is currently in jail, wasn't in favor of giving more than 11-12 seats to Congress. The muscle-flexing continued and both parties threatened to go solo. Senior Congress leader Sadanand Singh had said, "If RJD and Congress fail to reach a respectable consensus, then the top leadership is open to the option of going alone in the state."
Separately, RJD leader said Congress wasn't "treating" allies well
Singh added the turnout at party president Rahul Gandhi's February 3 rally showed people were choosing the Congress. But RJD wasn't happy with Singh's words. Shivanand Tiwari, RJD's vice-president, said he didn't understand why Singh made such comments when alliance talks were on. Citing examples of SP-BSP and AAP, Tiwari added he wasn't impressed with how Congress was treating anti-BJP allies in states.
RJD gets 20 seats, RLSP settles for 3
Finally, top leaders of the mahagathbandhan met in Delhi on Wednesday to finalize the talks and it seems Congress' demands weren't met. In all likeliness, RJD will contest from 20 seats, Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP will fight on three seats, and Jitin Ram Manjhi's Hindustan Awam Party will field candidates from two seats. An official announcement about the same is expected by Sunday.
The Kanhaiya factor: CPI wasn't given a seat on table
Reportedly, RJD wasn't willing to concede the Begusarai seat to CPI. The Left party wanted to field former JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar from there. However, RJD maintained that they lost the Begusarai seat by only a small margin in 2014. "There is no way we will leave it to the CPI," a senior RJD leader said. In 2014, RJD won four Lok Sabha seats.
Exiting the meeting, Tejashwi said there's no confusion
While leaving the high-profile meeting, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who is seen as Lalu's heir, had said, "All the leaders of the mahagathbandhan today came here for a meeting, we discussed seat sharing. There isn't any confusion between us, we are all clear." The general elections will be held in Bihar in all seven phases and the results will be announced on May 23.