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'No Mahagathbandhan Left': RJD, Cong Spar Over Candidates as Bypolls Come Near

The Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal have locked horns over the Kusheshwar Asthan constituency.

Updated
Politics
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Rahul Gandhi (L) and Tejashwi Yadav. Image used for representational purpose.</p></div>
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After speculations of tensions between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress, a rift between the two parties came to the fore after RJD on Sunday, 3 October, announced its party candidates for two Bihar by-elections scheduled for 30 October.

The parties have locked horns over Kusheshwar Asthan constituency in the Darbhanga district of the state.

In an interview with Quint Hindi regarding the matter, Bihar Congress president Madan Mohan Jha stated that the Mahagathbandhan no longer exists.

Two constituency seats from Bihar – Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan – will go to polls later this month.

On Sunday, RJD state president Jagdanand Singh named long-time party functionaries Ganesh Bharti and Arun Kumar Shah as candidates from the Kusheshwar Asthan and Tarapur seats respectively.

While the RJD said it will contest the by-elections from both the vacant seats, a Congress committee was formed to pick a candidate for an assembly seat from Kusheshwar Asthan.

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RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari stated earlier that fighting the bypolls from both the seats will be of benefit to the Mahagathbandhan – a grouping including the RJD, the Congress, and left parties.

Tiwari observed that a call on candidates would be taken by the Mahagathbandhan, and that a victory of candidates from the alliance would help push their opponent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar out of his post.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Ajeet Sharma asserted that a party candidate would compete from Kusheshwar Asthan, since the party had lost that seat by a narrow margin of about seven thousand votes in the election. Further, Sharma said that the RJD would compete from the Tarapur seat, which it had lost by a small margin in the Assembly polls.

Why the By-Election Is Important

The by-elections are scheduled to be held for two seats in Bihar, left vacant after the demise of two Janata Dal (United) MLAs Sashibhushan Hazari and Mewalal Choudhury.

Since the difference in the number of seats held by the Mahagathbandhan and the JD(U) in the state Assembly is small, the bypolls are of great significance to the politics of the state.

The loss of the Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan seats, if suffered, could potentially injure the Nitish Kumar-led government.

In the 2020 Assembly elections, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 125 seats and the Mahagathbandhan got 110 seats. Later, the NDA's figure increased to 128, as BSP, LJP and other independent MLAs were roped in. But with the death of two MLAs, this number came down to 126.

Now, if the Mahagathbandhan were to win the by-elections on the two vacant seats, then it will hold 112 seats in the state Assembly. If five MLAs of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen are added to this count, then the figure would rise to 117, approaching the 122-seats-mark needed to form majority.

Bihar Congress President Weighs in

Speaking to Quint Hindi over the matter, Bihar Congress president Madan Mohan Jha stated that two rounds of talks were held with RJD regarding the by-elections. However, giving no importance to the consultation process, the party announced its candidates on both the seats.

"That's why we have also decided that we will contest from both Kusheshwar Sthan and Tarapur seats," Jha said.

The Congress president stated that the Mahagathbandhan no longer exists, so the parties will contest each other on both seats.

"We have not left the seat of Kusheshwar for him nor have we given him consent to field his candidate. But on Sunday, 3 October, Tejashwi Yadav called and informed that RJD is going to announce their candidates names for both the seats. I disagreed with this decision and informed the high command," he added.

Speaking on the prospect of an alliance with RJD in future, Jha asserted that every option stays open politics.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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