RJD wary of Nitish-Cong proximity

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
The JD(U), which is spearheading the grand alliance against the BJP-led-NDA for the Bihar Assembly elections, will fine-tune Congress’ poll strategy. This will be under vigil of state Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who is the alliance’s leader for the poll campaign.
Sources say this is being looked at with suspicion by RJD supremo Lalu Yadav, whose relationship with the Congress leadership was on a chill on account of it growing proximity to Kumar. The RJD and the Congress are part of the alliance.
Indications are that the Congress factor, which has already cast a shadow on the relationship between the JD-U and RJD, is set to linger in the coming days. Yadav refused to attend the Congress rally addressed by Rahul Gandhi yesterday in West-Champaran in the state.
This compelled Kumar to skip the event in order to avoid public perception of his differences with Yadav regarding the Congress which would have brought discredit to their alliance and helped the BJP.
The RJD’s wariness stems from the allotment of 40 Assembly seats to the Congress in the seat-sharing formula. The Congress had won only four of a total of 243 seats in state in the last Assembly elections.
Kumar had put his foot down in favour of the Congress, which was the major reason for Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav breaking away from the alliance and forming a Third Front with other parties. Mulayam was the head of the Janata Parivar of which the JD-U and RJD were pivots.
Although the RJD was playing down the issue as the campaign for the elections had started, it holds Kumar responsible for virtual disintegration of the Parivar and possible split in anti-BJP votes.
The RJD feels the Nitish-Congress proximity will allow the JD-U have an upper hand in the alliance as it will provide it a larger space to manoeuvre, post elections.
The RJD and JD-U had theoretically accepted each other as equal partners in the alliance by providing themselves with 100 seats each for impending elections. The seats, however, had not been identified.
The JD-U and the RJD were yet not able to sink their differences over identification of majority of the seats for themselves.
Reports suggest Yadav has thrown a fresh spanner in the talks for seats identifications by demanding exchange of at least 20 seats which the JD-U won in the last Assembly elections and which were its strong holds.