The RJD-led opposition Grand Alliance in Bihar appears to have arrived at a seat-sharing arrangement, although the parties are yet to make an official announcement.
The ruling NDA is yet to arrive at a decision, a factor which could be playing on the minds of Opposition leaders to delay the formal announcement.
The three-phase assembly elections in Bihar are due on October 28, November 3 and 7. The results are expected on Nov 10
The reported breakthrough in the Grand Alliance came on a day Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday (October 2) addressed a virtual rally, attacking the BJP-led Centre.
Congress sources said the RJD has agreed to give it 68 to 70 seats out of the total 243 Assembly seats. The Congress had contested 41 seats in 2015, winning 27.
While one Congress leader said 68 is the final number, another leader said, “The number we have is 69, but we are pushing for one more seat.”
Sources in the Left confirmed that between the three parties, they have been allotted 29 seats. The CPI is set to get six seats, while the CPI (M) is likely to fight on four. The CPI(ML), which has three MLAs in the current House, is set contest 19 seats, leaders said.
The RJD of Lalu Prasad is set to contest 138 seats, leaving half-a-dozen seats to Mukesh Sahni’s VikasSheel Insaan Party (VIP). Two seats could be given to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).
Sources said that the parties are to resolve claims and counterclaims on certain specific seats and that there is now very little chance of anyone walking away, with an agreement broadly in place.
“The RJD, for instance, at the moment will have 138 seats. Based on final, ground-level checks on winnability, this can go up one or two seats, or may come down one,” a senior leader said.
On Friday, CPI (ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and the party’s Bihar unit secretary, Kunal, met RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav to discuss seat-sharing details. The Left was seeking 20 seats. Earlier, the RJD had offered it 15 seats.
Kunal later said, “Our talks with RJD went well. There will be final rounds of discussion before any official announcement is made.”
RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari said, “We are close to announcing our tie-up with Left parties. The RJD-Congress-Left would be a formidable alliance against NDA.”
A senior Congress leader said the parties are keeping an eye on the developments in the NDA, which is yet to come out with the seat-sharing formula because of hard bargaining by Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). The LJP has called a meeting of its Parliamentary board to decide its next course of action.
In her “Gandhi Chetna Rally” to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the BJP. “Today, some people swear by Gandhiji’s name but demolish his ideals and principles through their actions,” Sonia said. “There is violence, anarchy, atrocities…mistreatment everywhere. Deliberately an environment of discrimination has been created in the society where atrocities are being inflicted on innocent people.
“Enough is enough. I want to say that some people are running the government by creating an atmosphere of emotion, confusion and fear (bhavna, bhram aur bhay). You (people) need to remain alert and cautious and take the right decisions.”