RJD and Congress are fighting the bypolls separately, signalling that the alliance is no more.
New Delhi: The Assembly bypolls in two constituencies of Bihar had completely changed the political arithmetic in the state with the mahagathbandhan (“grand alliance”) virtually broken as both the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Indian National Congress (INC) putting up their own candidate on both the seats namely—Tarapur and Kusheshwarsthan. The elections are scheduled on 30 October. All political parties in the state have stationed their rank and file in the constituencies as these bypolls are considered very important for both the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the grand alliance. The bypolls are taking place due to the death of two JDU legislatures. These bypolls will also decide the fate of grand alliance (Mahagathbandhan) in future as the trouble between the two of the largest constituents- the RJD and Congress has been growing since the entry of former Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union president and controversial youth leader Kanhaiya Kumar in the Congress.
When Kanhaiya Kumar recently joined the grand-old-party, political circles in Patna were abuzz that his entry had led to a rift between the RJD and the Congress. Kanhaiya Kumar lost the 2019 parliamentary elections from Begusarai to the saffron party’s Giriraj Singh. Bihar Congress leaders claimed that his entry will strengthen the grand old party in the state.
Noted political analyst Santosh Singh who had covered Bihar widely said: “Tejashwi Yadav is feeling threatened by the entry of Kanahiya Kumar. RJD had been blocking Kanhaiya’s path in Bihar since the 2019 elections. What we are seeing in the bypolls with Congress and RJD fighting separately is indication of things to come in future. RJD knows that Kanahiya Kumar has the potential to take away Muslim support towards the Congress and that will damage the RJD completely. Hence the RJD put up candidates on both seats to pressurize the Congress.”
RJD announced the names of Arun Kumar Shah from Trapur and Ganesh Bharti from Kusheshwarsthan seats, leaving no space for the grand-old party.
After that, the Congress announced the names of Atirek Kumar from Kusheshwarsthan and Rajesh Kumar Mishra from the Tarapur Assembly seat. Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi cleared both the names. Bihar Congress president Madan Mohan Jha said: “Kusheshwarsthan was our natural seat as our party’s senior leader Ashok Kumar had been fighting the seat since long and had lost the last election by a very thin margin of around 6,000 votes.”
Ruling Janata Dal-United (JDU) argue that the differences between the grand alliance is a bogus thing as both the RJD and the Congress are protecting each other’s interests. Chief spokesperson of the JDU and former cabinet minister Neeraj Kumar, said: “Both the RJD and the Congress are protecting each other’s interest. Their target is Nitish Kumar in particular and the National Democratic Alliance in general. RJD is calling it a friendly fight while the Congress is saying our alliance still exists in Bihar, I am not able to understand what is this friendly fight thing and if the alliance still exists in Bihar, why both parties have given separate candidates—what does it really mean?”
The NDA is sitting on a very thin majority of 125 seats in the Assembly of 243. In the 2020 Bihar Assembly elections, the BJP had won 74 seats, the RJD got 75 and the JDU won 43 seats.