A government hospital in Ranchi has virtually turned into a centre of “pilgrimage” for Opposition Grand Alliance (GA) leaders. The reason behind it is that RJD chief Lalu Prasad is admitted there for treatment of various ailments under judicial custody, and it is only he who can decide over the seat-sharing deal on behalf of his party.

Earlier this month, he had sought bail from the High Court on health grounds but the court deferred the hearing on his petition till January. With the next general elections drawing closer and RJD chief lodged in jail, the worried Opposition leaders are now paying frequent visits to him to seal the deal before it’s too late. The tension is mounting in the Opposition camp in the sense that the ruling NDA has already finalized the seat-sharing deal for Bihar and also distributed LS seats among its three allies, namely the BJP, JD-U and the LJP.

In sharp contrast to the NDA, the GA or ‘Mahagathbandhan’ is facing the problem of plenty with too many parties joining the alliance while many more are still waiting in the wings to be part of it. Initially, the GA comprised the RJD, Congress and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi but now two more parties have joined it. They included~the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) headed by former NDA ally Upendra Kushwaha and Vikashil Insan Party (VHP) led by Mukesh Sahni, a prominent leader of the fisherman community who has significant presence in the state. Apart from them, various Left parties, such as CPI-ML and CPI, SP and BSP are expected to join the GA soon.

While on the one hand, this has strengthened the GA both numerically and also in matter of vote percentage, on the other it has also caused serious seat-sharing troubles since everyone wants to have significant number of seats while the RJD wants to keep the lion’s share with itself.

In the last LS polls, the RJD had contested on 27 seats out of Bihar’s total 40 but this time, it’s share of seat could be lesser given the number of allies joining the GA.

Although the RJD chief has transferred certain political power to his younger son Tejashwi Yadav yet Prasad being the head of his party has the final say in the selection of candidates.

But as Prasad continues serving jail terms in the fodder scam, various leaders are now paying visits to him in jail to sort out the issue of seat sharing so that they could focus on their constituencies.

Strangely, under the jail manual only three persons can meet Prasad in jail in a week and the authorities have fixed Saturday to meet him.

In the past few days, various leaders such as Shakeel Ahmed, Subodh Kant Sahay, both from Congress, Shatrughan Sinha (BJP), Hemant Soren (JMM), Upendra Kushwaha (RLSP) and Mukesh Sahni (VIP) have met Prasad while many more such as Manjhi and Sharad Yadav are to meet him soon.