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HomePoliticsLalu Prasad bends over backwards as Bihar alliance gets seat-sharing in place

Lalu Prasad bends over backwards as Bihar alliance gets seat-sharing in place

RJD doles out the seats to allies, leaving it with less than half of Bihar's 40 Lok Sabha seats — a first for the party.

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Patna: The grand opposition alliance in Bihar Friday announced its seat-sharing arrangement for the Lok Sabha elections, with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which had taken the lead in putting together the coalition, making the most concessions.

For the first time in its history, the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD will contest in less than half of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar — it has previously never contested in less than 25 seats, even when in an alliance.

According to the much-awaited formula, the RJD will now contest in 19 seats, the Congress in nine, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), led by former union minister Upendra Kushwaha, is to contest in five seats, while the Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and the Mukesh Sahani-led Vikasshil Insaan Party (VIP) have been handed three seats each.

Of the Left front parties, the CPI(ML) has been handed one seat.

RJD leaders said that while the numbers will remain the same, parties could swap seats in the later phases of the elections — particularly in Darbhanga and Valmiki Nagar.

“All of us in the grand alliance have agreed to cut down on our seats to make the alliance a reality,” RJD MP Manoj Jha said, announcing the agreement.

“Our leader Lalu Prasad had laid down the base for this coalition immediately after the 2014 polls. This alliance is not just a collection of parties, it will be the voice of the downtrodden.”

On the plus side for the party, it has finally managed to convince Sharad Yadav to contest from his old seat Madhepura on an RJD ticket.

RJD leaders told ThePrint that the seat-sharing agreement had the stamp of party chief Lalu, currently in judicial custody, in the fodder scam, in Ranchi.

“Tejashwi (Yadav) wanted to give RLSP just three seats. But he had to increase it to five because Lalu had assured this to Kushwaha,” a senior RJD leader said.

Similarly, HAM and VIP ended up with three seats each despite voices in the RJD that the two deserved just one seat each.

Also read: Samosas still have aloo but Bihar set for an election without Lalu

‘Lalu building a bigger social coalition’

RJD leaders said the party has made the concessions as Lalu wants to expand his social base these elections.

“In both the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the RJD’s numbers stagnated to just four seats,” said a party leader. “Laluji realises that he cannot hope to win more than four seats with his existing social base of Muslim and Yadavs. He realises that he had to broaden the social base to win more seats.”

The constituents of the grand alliance appear to reflect that. The RLSP represents the Kushwahas, an OBC caste that is 6 to 8 per cent of the population in Bihar. The Kushwahas dominate in several Lok Sabha seats such as Karakat, Ujiyarpur, Samastipur and Khagaria. They have traditionally been NDA voters.

HAM’s Manjhi, a former chief minister, is considered the leader of the Musahars, Dalits who constitute 4 per cent of the population and are in sizeable numbers in the Gaya Parliamentary seat.

Similarly, by inducting Sahani’s VIP, the grand alliance hopes to make inroads into his Mallah community. The Mallahs, classified as an extremely backward caste, are a community of fishermen. The EBCs constitute about 29 per cent of Bihar’s voters.

Lalu’s own social base of Muslims and Yadavs are a little over 30 per cent of the voters.

Alliance to make it upper castes vs others

While a majority of the NDA candidates are upper castes, the opposition alliance hopes to counter this by predominantly fielding Dalits and OBCs.

RJD leaders stress that the “2015 assembly election atmosphere”, when Lalu used a statement made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, to brand the BJP as an upper caste party. “It will even be at the cost of our upper caste candidates,” a close confidante of Tejashwi told ThePrint.

The change in strategy is already visible in the Aurangabad Parliamentary constituency, where the favourite to bag the ticket was the Congress’ Nikhil Kumar Singh, the former Delhi Police chief who has served as the governor of Kerala and Nagaland. Singh, a Rajput, appeared a natural choice as Aurangabad is nicknamed as the Chhitorgarh of Bihar because of the dominance of Rajputs.

This time, however, the seat has been handed to HAM with a rider that it will field Upendra Prasad, a former JD(U) MLA who is from the Dangi (OBC) community. Opposition alliance leaders believe that along with Dangis, Yadavs and Muslims the dominance of upper castes can be breached in this constituency.

“The only thing missing will be Lalu,” Jha said. “Our workers would have been very enthusiastic had he been around.”

Also read: Why political parties are scared of Lalu Prasad Yadav


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  1. More wise than the Congress which wanted fifteen, when impartial observers say even nine is on the higher side.

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