Nine isn’t fine for Congress in Bihar, highlights former State unit chief’s parting shot

While speaking to The Hindu, Anil Kumar Sharma accused the RJD of marginalising the Congress in the State

April 02, 2024 01:06 am | Updated 09:53 am IST - Patna

Former Bihar Congress president Anil Kumar Sharma expressed dismay at how RJD gave Congress just nine Lok Sabha seats as part of seat-sharing arrangement.

Former Bihar Congress president Anil Kumar Sharma expressed dismay at how RJD gave Congress just nine Lok Sabha seats as part of seat-sharing arrangement. | Photo Credit: File Photo

Since the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) announced its seat-sharing deal in Bihar on March 29, many in the Congress felt that the grand old party had been short-changed by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). This sentiment came out in the open after former Bihar Congress president Anil Kumar Sharma resigned from the party on Sunday.

While speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Sharma accused the RJD of marginalising the Congress in the State. “The RJD leadership does not treat the Congress as a partner but as a beggar. I fail to understand the reasons to keep supporting the RJD, which, in Bihar, is seen as a reactionary casteist party and promoter of ‘Jungle Raj’. It seems that the Congress party has entered into a permanent agreement with the RJD,” he said.

Big setback

Mr. Sharma, whose resignation is being seen as a big setback to the Congress ahead of the crucial poll, bristled at the seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar. Out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the State, the RJD will contest on 26 seats, with nine seats allotted to the Congress and the remaining five to the Left parties. He reminded that it was the Congress, and not the RJD, which won the lone Opposition seat in the State in the 2019 general election.

Numbers aside, Congress insiders also point at the seats that have come into the party’s kitty. One leader said the party was counting on getting the Begusarai seat, which has instead gone to the CPI.

Cutting the party to size

Similarly, Khagaria, which the Congress was keen on, was allotted to CPI(M), which has never contested the seat before. The leader, who did not wish to be identified, said the RJD did this to stop the influence of the Congress, which has won the seat thrice.

The party leader, who holds an organisational post in the State unit, said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi demanded Khagaria for the young leader Chandan Yadav in 2019 as well. However, the seat was given to the Vikassheel Insaan Party, then part of the grand alliance.

The leader also said that over the years, the number of seats RJD gives to Congress has gradually gone down.

It gave 21 seats to the Congress in the 1998 Lok Sabha poll, which was subsequently reduced to 16 in 1999. In 2004, the Congress was offered just four seats and in 2009 the number came down to three. In 2014, the RJD, after facing a drubbing in 2009, allotted 12 seats to the Congress. However, it again reduced the number to nine seats in 2019.

The Aurangabad Lok Sabha constituency, from which RJD will field a candidate this time, is considered a Congress bastion. It is the constituency from which Nikhil Kumar, former Kerala Governor and Delhi Police Commissioner, secured a win. Mr. Kumar is the son of former Bihar Chief Minister Satyendra Narayan Sinha, who won the Lok Sabha seat six times, and the grandson of Anugrah Narayan Sinha, the first Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar.

Mr. Kumar, whose wife, the late Shayma Sinha, also won the seat on a Congress ticket, issued a statement saying the RJD had not followed the “coalition dharma” and that he would bring the matter to the notice of the Congress top brass.

Even the Sheohar seat, which has gone to the RJD kitty, was earlier demanded by Congress. Former MLA Amit Kumar Tunna announced that he just needed the blessing of the party leadership to contest the seat.

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