NEW DELHI : With the Janata Parivar merger at the national level turning out to be a mirage, Bihar is witnessing glitches in unity of the Janata Dal (U) led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of former CM Lalu Prasad despite their repeated resolve to fight the saffron party together.
There are no more talks of contesting on one symbol as one party. Instead, both Nitish and Lalu are now talking of contesting the Assembly election due in October as the alliance partners, while the Congress leaders from the state are pressing the party leadership not to be part of this alliance but contest separately.
The first test of how Nitish, Lalu and Congress conduct themselves will come early July when 24 Legislative Council seats are to be filled up from the local bodies. The seat-sharing formula adopted in these council elections may be repleted in the Assembly elections.
Both sides have already started flexing muscles on the number of seats that the three parties will contest in the Assembly elections.
Former union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh fired the first shot in Patna on Friday, staking claim of his RJD over 145 seats in the 243-member House on the basis of finishing second in as many assembly segments in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Nitish reacted sarcastically: “Why not RJD contest all 243 seats?”
Nitish wants the ticket to all sitting MLAs must get the ticket on the ground that denial to some may lead to their exodus to join ranks with former chief minister Jeetram Manjhi. This is not acceptable to Lalu who wants to acquire a supremacy once again in Bihar and that is why he is suspected to have asked Raghuvansh to float the balloon of 145 seats to the RJD. In the last 2010 Assembly elections, the JD(U) had won 115 seats in the 243-member House while the RJD had won just 22 seats. JD(U), however, could win only two out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats while the RJD succeeded in winning four seats and that gave a handle to Raghuvansh to assert that the Lok Sabha results are true barometer of the people’s mood and not the 2010 elections as the JD(U) was then part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The BJP on the other hand is aiming to contest around 185 seats in the state, indication of which came from its national president Amit Shah during his meeting with the party’s Bihar MPs that he is aiming at the BJP winning a clear two-third majority in the state. Shah has also indicated that the BJP’s two allies — Lok Janshakti Party of union minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Rashtriya Lok Janata Party of Upendra Kushwaha — will get almost same share of seats as given in the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP and allies had swept Bihar in the Lok Sabha polls winning together 31 seats.