Patna, Oct 1 (IANS) In Bihar, regional parties have dominated the political scene ever since the Congress’ era ended in 1990. Apart from one occasion in 1995 when the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led Janata Dal won 167 out of 324 Assembly seats in united Bihar, the regional parties have always formed coalition governments. This trend continues till date, with Nitish Kumar holding the post of Chief Minister of the state in alliance with the six political parties that form the current Mahagathbandhan government of Bihar.
However, despite being alliance partners in Bihar not only are the Mahagathbandhan parties competing with the BJP-led NDA, but also among themselves for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
As a result, the seat sharing formula for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls has not been finalised as yet and everyone is staking a claim for the maximum number of seats.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sat together thrice to finalise the seat sharing formula in Bihar, but without any success.
Moreover, the ambitions of the Congress and the Left parties have added to the woes of Lalu and Nitish.
Congress state President, Akhilesh Singh, during an event in Buxar on Wednesday claimed that his party wants to contest 10 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. Significantly, during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls the grand old party had contested on nine seats and won only one in Kishanganj.
“The position of the Congress party is much better than it was in 2019. There is positive intent among the people of Bihar post Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra.’ Now, we are holding a ‘Parivartan Sankalp Rally’ in Bihar,” Akhilesh Singh said, while referring to the 2019 election.
After the era of Jagannath Mishra ended, the Congress party has not revived in Bihar and its vote share has been declining. Even in the 2020 Assembly election, the party contested 70 seats and won only 19.
On that occasion, the RJD had given the maximum seats to the Congress from its own quota and also ignored the Mukesh Sahani-led Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) and paid the price for it. The Congress performed poorly and Mukesh Sahani hurt the RJD in a big way by cutting Nishadh community votes.
With the Congress claiming 10 seats, the Dipankar Bhattacharya-led CPI(ML), too, wants to contest on a similar number of seats.
Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats and if the Congress and the Left parties take away 20 seats then the RJD and the JD(U) can contest only on 10 seats each. This is simply not possible or feasible and both the top regional parties will want to contest the maximum number of seats.
The JD(U) and RJD leadership has not claimed the number of seats they are looking to contest for the Lok Sabha, but sources say that the JD(U) wants 17 to 18 seats in Bihar and RJD leaders are thinking the same way.
The leaders of these two parties may go for the 2015 Assembly election formula when they contested on 100 seats each and the remaining 43 seats were given to the Congress.
This time, too, they want to contest 17 to 18 seats each and leave the remaining four or six seats for the Congress and the Left parties.
BJP spokesperson Arvind Kumar Singh said, “The ‘ghamandia’ alliance will do major bargaining and fighting for seats. Each will try to get the maximum seats. The ‘ghamandia’ alliance is a wedding party without a groom. No one knows who the groom is and who the convener is. They are opportunists who formed the ‘ghamandia’ alliance out of fear of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
The biggest challenge for Lalu and the RJD is to keep the Mahagathbandhan united in Bihar right now. At present, Nitish is not looking pleased with the Congress’ top leadership.
After succeeding in uniting the Opposition parties in the country against the BJP he was hoping for the post of convener of the INDIA Opposition bloc. This would have boosted his chances of becoming the Prime Minister after the Lok Sabha election results. So far, this has not happened, thanks to the Congress, which does not want to give an edge to Nitish.
As a result, Nitish has opted for his old ploy of pressure politics. Meeting Narendra Modi at the G20 dinner party, followed by a visit to the statue of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya on his birth anniversary in Patna, were all part of his pressure politics.
However, these moves make Nitish predictable as the Lok Janshakti Party Ram Vilas (LJPR) national president Chirag Paswan rightly pointed out.
“Playing upon the fears of his political partners and opponents alike is a part of Nitish Kumar’s old political ploy. When he was in the NDA, he walked all the way to the Dawat-e-Iftar at Lalu Prasad’s residence to frighten the BJP. Now, he is in the Mahagathbandhan and he is ignoring the functions of his own alliance partners and paying tributes to the senior leaders of the BJP in order to put pressure on the RJD,” Chirag Paswan said.
“It is absolutely right that Nitish Kumar is being ignored in the alliance of Opposition parties. Nitish Kumar went there to become convener, leader of the Opposition alliance and the PM candidate, but no one is taking notice of him. Whenever Nitish Kumar is part of any alliance, its leaders do not trust him. When the people of Bihar have no faith in him, how can the people of other states trust him? He shifts his goal post repeatedly leading to trust issues with him. This is the reason why he often plays pressure politics,” Paswan said.
For Lalu, keeping Nitish close ahead of the Lok Sabha polls is the key to defeat the BJP and the NDA in Bihar. If Nitish quits the Mahagathbandhan, it means the state and the entire government machinery would go from his hands and the BJP would get the direct benefit.
The Opposition has already lost governance in Maharashtra and it cannot afford to lose an important state like Bihar with 40 Lok Sabha seats.
“Bihar has three major political forces and they are the RJD, JD(U) and the BJP. Whenever two major forces are on the same side, they win the election comfortably.
“It happened in 2015 when the RJD and JD(U) contested together and in 2020 when the JD(U) and the BJP contested together and won the battle comfortably. Lalu Prasad is well aware of it and hence is trying to keep Nitish Kumar in the Mahagathbandhan as long as possible,” said Arun Singh, a political analyst of Patna.