RJD yields in bid to forge social coalition

Patna: Predictably, Lalu Yadav’s RJD has got the bigger share of the electoral pie in Bihar and will contest half of the 40 seats. But, more important, in an attempt to forge a rainbow social coalition, the RJD has yielded 11 seats to three backward and Mahadalit parties. The remaining seats (9) have gone to the Congress.

The talks between the Congress and the RJD had almost derailed with the former demanding at least 11 seats. However, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav was willing to part with only nine.

For Congress, this is quite a climb down as it had initially wanted to contest on 15.By conceding more seats to allies, the RJD is tacitly admitting that unless it reaches out to more castes through the allies, the traditional vote bank of Muslim and Yadavs will not see it through.

As a part of this broad understanding, Sharad Yadav, a former leader of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, will contest on the RJD symbol and merge his party with it after the election. The Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) of Upendra Kushwaha, another former BJP ally who crossed over in December, will contest five seats.

Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Morcha has been given three. But the biggest beneficiary of the seat sharing formula is a little known political outfit – the Vikassheel Insan Party – with zero political experience. The RJD is thereby hoping to reach out to the Nishads, traditional boatmen, who are divided in to 20 sub-castes.

According to a PTI report, the Congress was keen to bring the Left parties on board the Mahagathbandhan but the RJD was not amenable. Bihar is key state for both the NDA and the Congressled United Progressive Alliance. In 2014, the BJP had won 22 seats in the state.

This was followed by LJP’s six. Nitish Kumar’s JD (U), which had then fought the polls separately, had managed to win just two. The RJD had won four seats followed by the RLSP and the Congress’s three and two seats, respectively. Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had won one.

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