RJD, Congress talks hit roadblock over Purnea, Katihar Lok Sabha seats | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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RJD, Congress talks hit roadblock over Purnea, Katihar Lok Sabha seats

By, Patna
Mar 28, 2024 04:07 AM IST

RJD eyes Bima Bharti, a recent JD(U) recruit, for Purnea seat, while former MP Pappu Yadav, now in Congress, also shows interest.

Purnea and Katihar, two seats currently held by the Janata Dal (United), have emerged as the sticking point in seat-sharing talks between the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress for the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, top leaders of the former said.

(From left) Union minister Nitin Gadkari waves at the crowd ahead of filing his nomination papers in Nagpur; Congress leader Chaudhary Lal Singh files his papers from Udhampur constituency in Jammu & Kashmir’s Kathua, on Wednesday. (File)
(From left) Union minister Nitin Gadkari waves at the crowd ahead of filing his nomination papers in Nagpur; Congress leader Chaudhary Lal Singh files his papers from Udhampur constituency in Jammu & Kashmir’s Kathua, on Wednesday. (File)

On Tuesday evening, leader of opposition in Bihar assembly and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav held a meeting with senior Congress leader Mukul Wasnik in Delhi, following which he claimed a deal was struck between members of the five-party ‘Mahagathbandhan’ or Grand Alliance in Bihar (part of INDIA bloc) and an announcement would be made within next few days in Patna.

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“The Congress-RJD alliance is the oldest alliance. We have been together in all situations and have contested elections together. There has never been any tension between us. We have both always understood each other,” said Yadav, flanked by Bihar Congress president Akhilesh Prasad Singh and Congress’s state in-charge Mohan Prakash.

“Our collective agenda is to stop the BJP. I can say that Bihar will present a shocking result. And we have a strategy for that,” the RJD leader said, adding that all members of the alliance – the Congress, RJD and three communist parties – were getting a respectable deal.

But with no announcement forthcoming on Wednesday, the leaders cited in the first instance admitted that while the RJD had softened its stand and agreed to give the Congress more than seven seats by offering one or two seats more, a final deal was being held up by a lack of consensus over Purnea and Katihar.

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“There are still some issues over the Katihar seat, which the Congress wants. Similarly, the RJD is keen on fighting the Purnea seat even as the Congress is insisting on it. Our party is ready to allot eight to nine seats to the Congress but we cannot give up our claim on Purnea,” said a senior RJD leader, seeking anonymity.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the National Democratic Alliance, comprising the BJP, JD(U) and LJP won 39 seats.

RJD is keen to field Bima Bharti, a JD(U) legislator who joined the party recently, from Purnea, but the seat is also being eyed by former MP Rajesh Ranjan, aka Pappu Yadav, who joined the Congress recently. Ranjan is a five-time MP and represented Purnea thrice.

On Wednesday, Bharti claimed she would contest from Purnea. In response, Ranjan said: “I will not give up my claim on Purnea. Let the top leadership of the Congress decide.”

The leaders cited in the first instance said the RJD has offered to support Ranjan from Madhepura or Supaul, but he is not keen on these.

There is also no clarity on whether the RJD will give up its claim on Katihar, where the Congress is keen to field former MP Tariq Anwar.

The first phase of the elections is scheduled for April 19 and Thursday is the last day for filing nominations for the four seats from Bihar that go to the polls in this phase.

Wednesday was the last day for the remaining 98 seats that go to polls in this phase across 20 other states and Union Territories.

The RJD has already announced candidates for seven constituencies in Bihar.

Former governor and senior Congress leader Nikhil Kumar expressed his displeasure over the way RJD named Abhya Kushwaha from the Aurangabad parliamentary seat he was keen to contest . “A seat sharing arrangement is done by taking into confidence all allies in a coalition. But, issuing tickets before a deal is finalised is not correct,” he told a TV channel.

The CPI and the CPI(ML) have said Begusarai and the Karakat seats have been alloted to them, but HT learns that the Congress is not entirely happy over this.

Political analyst and former principal of Patna College, Nawal Kishore Chaudhary, said the delay in seat-sharing arrangement in the INDIA bloc has sent a wrong signal to the people ahead of the polls.

“The delay in seat-sharing only reflects a lack of unity among allies in the bloc. It is happening in several states, including Bihar. The people want decisive leadership and action and such internal wrangling among allies in the opposition coalition could have adverse impact on their poll prospects and give the ruling NDA some advantage,” he said.

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