New Delhi: Hours after the Election Commission announced the schedule for assembly elections in Bihar, the Congress Friday said it has “no problem” with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) projecting Tejashwi Yadav as its leader, but added that the grand old party hasn’t agreed on any CM-face for the mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) yet.
Addressing a press conference, Shaktisinh Gohil, the Congress national in-charge of Bihar, said the Grand Alliance will “together come to an agreement” on a CM face, and that it has to keep every party’s considerations in mind.
“Every party has a right to put a leader’s face forward. How could we have a problem with that? We have no issues with that,” Gohil said. “But we will sit down and decide if the alliance benefits from one face, and who that will be.”
Gohil’s comments come a day after former union minister Upendra Kushwaha said that his party — the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) — will remain in the Grand Alliance only if Tejashwi isn’t its leader.
Kushwaha told party workers Thursday that he would “not accept the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav” in the RJD-led Grand Alliance.
Assembly elections in Bihar will be held in three phases — 28 October, 3 November, and 7 November. The counting of votes will take place on 10 November.
‘Need to work together to defeat BJP-JD(U)’
Gohil further said he will try to ensure all like-minded parties stick together, and that the “anti-establishment” votes do not get divided.
“This is a politically vibrant state, and every party wants more seats…but we have to keep in mind that we have a burden to ensure all of us work together to defeat the BJP-JDU,” he said.
On Kushwaha’s remarks on quitting the Grand Alliance, the Congress leader said, “He (Kushwaha) was a minister when he quit the NDA. He left power because he favoured principles.
“Aur agar koi bhi galat raaste pe chala jaaye, toh usey log vote-katua party bolte hai aur vote nahi dete (If anyone takes a wrong path, then people call his party the one that cuts into votes of others and they don’t vote for it)” he said, hinting that if RLSP forms a new front, then they will not garner votes.
On reports that Kushwaha may rejoin the NDA or form a third front, Gohil said the people of Bihar “will not fall for that”.
Kushwaha had exited the NDA in December 2018 to join the RJD-led opposition alliance to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Congress wants a United Front
The Congress is keen on ensuring most opposition parties keep a United Front, especially after Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi joined the NDA earlier this month.
However, sources in the Congress party said neither the RJD nor the RLSP are willing to budge from their respective positions.
“The RJD’s logic is that RLSP should not be given more than a handful of seats, as an alliance with them doesn’t help in vote-sharing,” a party source said.
There also seems to be a trust deficit that the alliance shares with the RLSP, a former NDA ally.
“The worry is that if their candidates defect to the NDA after winning the seats, then it will be a major loss for the alliance. So RJD has made it clear that if RLSP should not be given more than 10 seats in the alliance and if they want more seats, their candidates should fight on an RJD or Congress ticket,” the source added.
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