Upcoming Bihar bypolls leave allies RJD, Congress deeply divided

Congress’s Bihar in-charge Bhakta Charan Das. File photo   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

The upcoming bypolls to two Assembly seats in Bihar have deeply divided allies Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, with each sniping at the other after they decided to contest the elections on their own.

The Kusheshwar Asthan and Tarapur Assembly seats fell vacant due to the death of the incumbent legislators.

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The Congress’s State in-charge Bhakta Charan Das even went to the extent of accusing the RJD of colluding with “communal forces,” without specifically naming the BJP. The RJD has retorted that Mr. Das is completely unaware of the political history of the State and “drawing room politics” does not pay dividends.

The RJD refused to concede the Kusheshwar Asthan constituency to the Congress, even though the latter had contested from the seat in the 2020 State election. The Congress’s candidate Ashok Kumar lost by a little over 7,000 votes to the JD(U).

“The alliance among the Congress, the RJD and the Left happened on the basis of secular, democratic and socialist ideals. The alliance was specifically to fight the communal forces. The obvious question that comes to mind is that if the RJD has broken the alliance, are they now with the communal forces?” Mr. Das told The Hindu.

By refusing the Congress’s demand, Mr. Das noted that the RJD was insulting the other 19 Congress legislators who had been supporting them. “They are denying our very existence,” he added.

In a sharp riposte, senior RJD leader and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj K. Jha said Mr. Das’s comments were both unfortunate and tragically funny. He said the Congress leader was betraying his lack of knowledge of Bihar’s political history.

“He obviously does not know about the sacrifices that Laluji and the RJD have made to fight communal forces. Laluji was the only Chief Minister in the country to stop the BJP’s rath yatra and arrest L.K. Advani. It is unfortunate that no one even briefed him after he took charge of the State. He cannot understand the ground realities while lecturing from his drawing room,” Mr. Jha said.

The Congress is hoping to utilise the opportunity to re-energise its cadre, who for long have played only a supporting role in the alliance ruled by the RJD. To assert its seriousness about the task at hand, the party also appointed its secretaries Chandan Yadav and Ranjeet Ranjan as observers for the two seats.

Mr. Das said the Congress was wrongly blamed for not delivering in the 2020 Assembly poll. The RJD spared 70 seats for the Congress but the latter could only win 19 seats.

“There were 26 seats, which the RJD had traditionally contested but palmed off to us just before the polls and obviously we couldn’t recover the seats. And there are 16 other seats where the RJD votes did not transfer to us. So, it is wrong to blame us for the Mahagatbandhan’s defeat,” he observed.

So far, both sides have been careful not to brand the ongoing tension as the final divorce.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 5:22:18 PM |

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