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Bihar Assembly elections | Mahagatbandhan narrows down its seat sharing formula


RLSP may get the boot; CPI (ML), CPI and CPI (M) together will get two dozen seats

The Rashtriya Janata Dal-led (RJD) mahagatbandhan (‘grand alliance’) is close to finalising seat distribution among its alliance partners. If the RJD has its way, then Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) is unlikely to continue in the alliance.

Sources indicated that the RJD being the senior partner in the alliance will keep close to 140 seats out of the 243 Assembly seats. The Congress, which had been demanding for over 90 seats, agreed to climb down and might get close to 70 odd seats. In 2015, the Congress had fought on 42 seats, including a couple of Janata Dal-United (JD-U) candidates who fought on the Congress symbol.

All the three Left parties — the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML); the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M); and the Communist Party of India (CPI) — will get more than two dozen seats all put together.

The fourth partner — Mukesh Sahni’s Vikassheel Insaan Party — will get less than 10 seats.

“We are at the last stage of tying up our alliance. More or less all the allies have agreed upon the emerging formula. We are likely to make an announcement in the next 72 hours,” a senior leader from the alliance said.

The Congress has been trying to keep the RLSP on board too, but according to sources, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav has been arguing against keeping them on. “He is not confident that the party will stay on with the Opposition alliance in a post-poll scenario, especially if the victory margin between the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and the Mahagatbandhan is narrow. He also feels that RLSP brings very little to the table,” a senior Congress leader said. Mr. Kushwaha’s recent comments that he would not fight if Tejashwi Yadav is made the face of the alliance also doesn’t help his cause.

However, the Congress State in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil at a press conference on Friday had asserted that all like-minded parties will remain together. Mr. Gohil is in Patna to attend a meeting of the party’s screening committee and is likely to smooth out the seat-sharing formula too.

The Left parties, who despite many rounds of talks ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls were not accommodated, will find a place in the upcoming Assembly polls. RJD sources said they were far more keen on having the CPI(ML) on board than the CPI and CPI(M). Both the CPI and CPI(M) have had dismal performances in the last four Assembly elections in the State. The RJD is negotiating with CPI(ML), leaving the Congress to talk to the other two Left parties.

“Our primary objective must be to defeat the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) and its allies. For this, we must project a credible alternative that provides a positive political and economic agenda,” CPI general secretary D. Raja said. He added that the Left will make only reasonable demands based on its strength in the State.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also echoed the same view that the NDA should not benefit from a division of votes.

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