Rounds of bargaining, awkward silence for days: How Congress, RJD achieved seat sharing pact in Bihar

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New Delhi: Multiple rounds of bargaining, days of silence and the fear of letting out the wrong message led to the Congress and RJD reaching a consensus on seat-sharing in Bihar for the Lok Sabha elections however, five seats have become the bone of contention between the two parties.

The Congress and RJD top brass are likely to meet in Delhi on Wednesday to finalise the constituencies and an official announcement may be made in the following day from Patna.

According to sources, the Mahagathbandhan or the Grand Alliance has agreed to a pact for a majority of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. As part of the seat-sharing pact, Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) will contest 26 seats, the Congress 9 seats and the Left parties five, of which the CPIML will get three seats.

Roadblocks in Bihar seat sharing

For now, RJD is willing to give the Katihar seat. Congress had demanded the Aurangabad seat for Nikhil Kumar and Purnia for Pappu Yadav to which Tejashwi has not yet agreed. The decision will be made in a meeting in Patna in the coming days. Meanwhile, Congress senior MLA Ajit Sharma is demanding the Bhagalpur seat for his film actress daughter Neha Sharma. RJD may consider this.

On the other hand, Congress is demanding the Begusarai seat for Kanhaiya Kumar, but since he contested the seat in 2019 with a Left ticket, Lalu is inclined to give the seat to the Left. Meanwhile, Lalu is also willing to give the Sasaram seat, reserved for the SC category, to Meira Kumar’s son. This has also become a contention since Kumar’s son is of the OBC category due to his father’s caste and she has asked her son be given the ticket from Karakat.

How seat sharing was achieved

The alliance was on the verge of falling apart amid multiple rounds of negotiations between Congress and RJD on the number of seats. The Grand Old Party reportedly demanded 12-14 seats which Lalu Yadav turned down with an offer of just 6 seats. To this, Mallikarjun Kharge presented a proposal to contest 10 seats and advised the party to go in the elections alone if anything less is offered.

RJD again revised the tally to 8 and reported to have conveyed its wish to not go above this number and leave the alliance if Congress asked for more seats and stopped the negotiations.

The Yadav family arrived in Delhi on March 24 but chose to stay away from Congress leadership. This led to speculation of the INDIA bloc falling apart just days before the Lok Sabha elections, which would send out the wrong message.

Breakthrough came on March 25 when Congress general secretary KC Venugopal met RJD leaders following which the two parties put a rest to rumours and agreed to discuss the seat-sharing pact further.

Now, Tejashwi Yadav is expected to hold talks with Lalu and KC Venugopal with Rahul Gandhi and Kharge for the final discussions, paving way for a key meeting of Congress and RJD high command to seal the seat-sharing deal. The meeting is likely to take place on Wednesday and the official announcement to be followed a day after.

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