New Delhi: The Indian National Congress (INC) and the Rastriya Janata Dal (RJD) may ally again after the Bihar byelection debacle which both fought separately against the National Democratic Alliance. Sources have confirmed that back channel negotiations have started and the central leadership of the Congress is in touch with Lalu Prasad Yadav on the issue.
A senior functionary of the RJD told The Sunday Guardian that after the bypoll debacle, the only practical option for the opposition is to come together and fight the future elections in an alliance. The Congress leaders also agreed that they need to fight the battle against the ruling alliance in Bihar collectively. Akhilesh Prasad Singh, a former central minister in the UPA-1, said, “If we look practically, we need to fight the elections together. Our central leadership will also look at the larger picture and take a call. RJD has been our trusted ally since 2000.”
In both the seats of Bihar Legislative Assembly—Kusheshwarsthan and Tarapur—whose results were declared on 2 November, the JDU has been able to retain despite much effort from the rival parties. In Tarapur Congress’s candidate Rajesh Kumar Mishra got only 3,852 votes and in Kusheshwarsthan, the grand old party’s candidate Atirek Ram got only 5,603 votes and lost the deposits while the RJD came second. In the Kusheshwarsthan assembly segment which falls under Samastipur Lok Sabha seat, the JDU candidate, Aman Bhushan Hajari defeated his nearest rival the RJD’s Ganesh Bharti by a margin of more than 12,000 votes while in the Tarapur assembly seat, JDU’s candidate Rajeev Kumar Singh won by a margin of 3,800 votes. In Kusheshwarsthan, Hajari got 59,887 while the RJD’s Ganesh Bharti polled 47,192 votes.
Talking to The Sunday Guardian from Patna, Bihar Congress president Madan Mohan Jha said, “It’s too early to say that the alliance with the RJD is happening again, there are no elections in Bihar in the next one year. The decision to break the alliance with the RJD and fight separately was taken by our high command and any future decision would also be taken by the central leadership. I am not in a condition to decide.”
The RJD and the Indian National Congress have been in alliance since long with the government of Lalu Prasad Yadav surviving for five years between 2000-2005 because of the support from the Congress’ 23 MLAs who were made ministers in the state cabinet.
Senior political analyst and writer Vinay Kumar Mishra, who had covered Bihar extensively, said, “It is more than certain that the RJD-Congress will again ally in the upcoming elections. Both have no other option as the Congress has been marginalized in the state. The grand old party got 16% vote share in 1995 and started going soft on the RJD that led to its decline and conceded opposition space to Nitish Kumar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the 2000 elections, the Congress’ vote share fell to 11% and then it allied with the RJD which led to its decimation. It has no ground base in Bihar now, and if it has to win seats, then the only available option is to be in an alliance with the RJD.
If the Congress wants to get strong in Bihar it needs to work on the ground for at least 10 years and fight each election alone, which the central leadership will not permit because of the BJP’s rise and need of allies at the central level.”