Rebel BJP parliamentarian Shatrughan Sinha has got caught in a peculiar situation. Sinha who represents Patna Sahib seat in Bihar was to join the Congress today in the presence of party chief Rahul Gandhi after the BJP fielded union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from this seat this time. However, his entry to the Congress party has been delayed further — the second time in a fortnight.
Although the Grand Alliance has distributed seats among its seven allies, trouble still persists over the seats they will be contesting. Fresh trouble arose after the RJD reportedly allotted the party symbol to senior leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui, former finance minister, from the Darbhanga seat which the Congress wanted for Kirti Jha Azad who joined the party only recently. The RJD, as such, is angry at the way the Congress has been seeking choice seats for the candidates who have joined the party barely a couple of days back. Such candidates include Azad, Pappu Singh, Lovely Anand and Anant Singh.
The bone of contention right now is the Darbhanga seat which the Congress wants for Azad since he is the sitting candidate. The RJD claims this has been the traditional seat of the party, which it has been contesting for long. In the last LS polls, RJD candidate Ali Ashraf Fatmi lost the seat to the BJP with a little over 35,000 votes even at the height of the Narendra Modi wave. Likewise, a former state Congress president Kaukab Qadari has been seeking Karakat seat while this is the sitting seat of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) headed by former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha who is now part of the Grand Alliance. Another issue of conflict is Supaul seat which is currently held by Congress leader Ranjit Ranjan, who is the wife of rebel RJD leader Pappu Yadav. As such, Yadav had won the last LS polls on RJD ticket from Madhepura but soon after his victory, he rebelled against the party leadership and described himself as the real heir of the party. Eventually, he was expelled from the RJD after which he formed his own political outfit Jan Adhikar Party (JAP).
In the last state polls held in 2015, Yadav fielded his party candidates in over 30 seats but drew a blank. The party also fared badly in the bypoll to Araria LS seat held last year after the sudden demise of veteran Muslim leader Mohammad Taslimuddin. Anxious of his fate, Yadav tried to come closer to the NDA but it failed to take notice of his request to become a part of the alliance. Then he turned towards the Grand Alliance and the Congress appeared interested in him but now the RJD has firmly opposed his entry. Angry Yadav has now filed nomination from Madhepura seat as an Independent candidate but the RJD has now asked the Congress to convince him to withdraw his nomination failing which the RJD will support its dummy candidate in Supaul where Yadav’s wife is contesting elections.
As the confrontation reaches critical stage, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is now compelled to hold a meeting with leaders from Bihar. The ambitious leaders are now pressing the top Congress leadership to go it alone but the trouble is that if Gandhi walks away from the Grand Alliance, it will convey a wrong message. The problem for the Congress is that several leaders who recently joined the party hoping to get tickets find their chances blocked. All these factors have been blocking the entry of Shatrughan Sinha into the Congress while he waits in the wings. The plus point for Sinha is that there is no issue over his candidature and both the Congress and the RJD are willing to give him the ticket.