Madhubani in Bihar is globally famous for Madhubani art or Mithila painting done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nibpens and matchsticks and characterised by eye-catching geometrical patterns. But now, this North Bihar district has suddenly come into prominence with two top leaders from the Congress and the RJD, both part of the Opposition Grand Alliance, suddenly revolting against their respective party leaderships and jumping into poll fray, cocking a snook at the whole idea of forming a mega alliance to unitedly take on the BJP.
Very strangely, both Shakeel Ahmad and Ali Ashraf Fatmi, former union ministers— the first representing the Congress and the latter representing the RJD— were until recently strong advocates of a mega alliance to give a befitting reply to the surging BJP but the denial of tickets have left them as party rebels overnight. While Ahmad has resigned as AICC spokesperson, Fatmi resigned from all the posts he held in the RJD, angry at being not given tickets. Both are now contesting as rebels from the Madhubani seat currently being held by the outgoing BJP MP Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav.
As such, this LS seat has gone to the Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP), a political outfit floated by fisherman community leader Mukesh Sahni under the seat-sharing deal and hence the respective parties were helpless to fulfil the wishes of the two leaders. The problem for them is that both claim that only they have the political guts to defeat the rival BJP candidate Ashok Yadav in the elections. Their jumping into the poll fray is, thus, set to help the BJP in the sense the Muslim votes will get divided between the two Muslim leaders.
Ahmad was the first to revolt against the party leadership and on Tuesday he even filed his nomination papers as an Independent candidate. “I have talked to the party leadership over giving me party leadership and wait for this till 18 April failing which I will contest as an Independent,” Ahmad told the media, soon after filing nominations on Tuesday.
The party, however, flatly rejected his demand for the party symbol saying a party has to sacrifice many things in coalition politics. “Whatever the decision has been taken is final. Everyone should know that the Congress is contesting on nine seats in Bihar and there is just no scope for reconsideration,” Congress spokesperson Prem Chandra Mishra said. Describing it as “compulsion of coalition politics”, Mishra said Mithilanachal had been the stronghold of the Congress but the coalition politics is something which everyone should understand.
“It’s due to this compulsion that we are unable to field Kirti Azad from his sitting Darbhanga seat and Nikhil Kumar from Aurangabad. But we are not alone. Even the BJP has given up its five sitting seats to the JD-U. The BJP, which won on 22 LS seats last time, are now contesting on only 17 seats this time,” explained Mishra, adding “Shakeel Ahmad must realise this”.
Likewise, Fatmi, who lost Darbhanga, was hopeful of a party ticket from this seat but as the RJD fielded Abdul Bari Siddiqui, he hoped to get a ticket from the Madhubani seat. Finally, when the seat went to the VIP share, he hoped to get ticket from that party but revolted after the VIP fielded some other candidate from this seat. He too has announced to wait till 18 April to file his papers from the seat.
But RJD leader Tejashwi is just undeterred by such rebellion. “Everyone is free to contest elections and we can stop them but we are also ready to initiate action against him if he went against the party line,” Tejashwi declared.
According to him, earlier too Fatmi had revolted but was brought back into the party after much cajoling. Tejashwi now seems to be saying that leadership has changed and it would be difficult for Fatmi to make a comeback in future.