The RJD which heads the Opposition Grand Alliance in Bihar is hugely missing its party chief Lalu Prasad at this crucial juncture when every party is now busy discussing the seat-sharing issue with its allies with the next Lok Sabha elections not very far away. Prasad is at present serving jail term in Ranchi after being sentenced in fodder scam cases.
Only last month, Prasad surrendered before the CBI court in Ranchi after the Jharkhand High Court rejected his appeal for further extension of his provisional bail. Given the mood of the court, it appears the RJD president is not going to get reprieve in the immediate future and will have to operate his political activities from within the jail. It’s this problem which is coming in the way of seat-sharing deal with his allies.
With Prasad in jail and his children still not so politically matured, the party is finding it really hard how to go ahead with the seat-sharing plan with its over-ambitious allies, especially the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), which is headed by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi. The newly floated outfit HAM which became the part of the Grand Alliance only in March this year has sought 20 Lok Sabha seats alone from the RJD out of Bihar’s total 40.
Although Manjhi’s seat demand is being described as pressure tactics, his move has annoyed the RJD which is trying hard to cobble up a bigger alliance to defeat the NDA. “Why only 20? Manjhi should contest all 40 seats if HAM has the candidates. We only want to see NDA’s defeated somehow,” commented a RJD leader. Prior to joining the Grand Alliance, Manjhi was part of the NDA but his over-ambition finally led to his exit from the ruling coalition.
Apart from HAM, the Congress is yet another ally of the Grand Alliance but it has not publicly laid its claims over seats. Both these parties have stayed together for the past two decades, but this time RJD wants to include all the major Opposition parties in the Opposition alliance, such as the Left, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Nationalist Congress Party, to make it a powerful political grouping.
Of them, the CPI-ML is known to have a considerable support base among the Dalit class voters and the RJD is quite inclined to include this party into the alliance. Informed sources said CPIML has been offered two seats while RJD wants to contest on at least 20 seats alone keeping in view its strong support base. At presently, the RJD has four members in the Lok Sabha whereas it is the largest single party in the Bihar state Assembly with 80 members.
But, the issue of seatsharing remains in trouble in the absence of the RJD chief. In his absence, it’s his younger son Tejashwi Yadav, former deputy chief minister, who faces the daunting task to complete without the RJD being the loser. It’s, however, not clear, how he will be able to handle the politically matured Congress leaders and their demand for bigger share of seats.
Although Tejashwi has senior party leaders to assist, they are not said to be of the stature of Prasad, a seasoned politician who has ruled the national politics in the past four decades. RJD really misses Lalu Prasad!