The 'grand alliance' of Opposition parties in Bihar announced a seat-sharing deal for the Lok Sabha elections on Friday, wherein Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) will be contesting on 20 seats while the Congress will contest on nine.
The announcement was made by RJD spokesperson Manoj Kumar Jha at a press conference. Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party will fight for five seats and Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) will contest on three, according to the arrangement.
While Mukesh Sahni’s Vikasheel Insaf Party (VIP) got three seats, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) of former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha has been allotted five seats.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation bagged one seat, which will come from the 20 constituencies allotted to the RJD.
Jha also announced that Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) leader Sharad Yadav will contest polls on an RJD ticket.
The announcement comes days after RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, following a meeting with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, had said that the grand alliance is "intact" and its candidates for all the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state will be announced after Holi.
"All is well in mahagathbandhan. It is intact and strong and we will put up a strong fight at the hustings. All differences have been ironed out. We will announce our candidates after Holi," Tejashwi had said.
Leaders of all alliance partners of the Mahagathbandhan, including BPCC president Madan Mohan Jha were present at the press conference. However top leaders like Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), Kushwaha, Sharad Yadav and Manjhi were conspicuous by their absence.
On being questioned about Tejashwi's absence, Jha told reporters, "Am I nothing in my party? You are making me insignificant? If format changes at the last moment, it's a party's decision. Do not question that."
Candidates were also announced for the four Lok Sabha seats that will go to polls in the first phase. Filing of nominations for these seats will end on 25 March and votes will be cast on 11 April. These candidates include Manjhi himself, who will be contesting from Gaya, and RLSP state president Bhudeo Chaudhary from Jamui which is currently held by LJP's Chirag Paswan.
The other prominent candidates in the list are HAM's Upendra Prasad from Aurangabad and RJD's Vibha Devi, whose husband Raj Vallabh Yadav was recently disqualified from the Assembly following conviction in a rape case, from Nawada.
The RJD leaders also announced that the Nawada Assembly seat will be contested by Dhirendra Singh Munna of the HAM.
The Dehri Assembly seat, where by-election has been necessitated by RJD's Iliyas Hussain losing the seat on account of conviction in the bitumen scam, has gone to his son Firoz Husain.
Bypolls to the two Assembly seats will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar where it will be held in seven phases.
According to the arrangement, the Congress will also get a Rajya Sabha seat whenever elections are held for the Upper House.
The seat-sharing announcement evoked angry outbursts at Sadaqat Ashram, the Congress headquarters in Bihar, as supporters of former Aurangabad MP, Nikhil Kumar, raised angry slogans in protest against the seat going to the HAM. The agitators alleged that the seat was "sold" by Jha and AICC in-charge for the state, Shaktisinh Gohil.
The Aurangabad seat, known as 'mini Chittorgarh' by virtue of the strong presence of the Rajput caste in the area, has been a bastion for Nikhil Kumar's family. His father Satyendra Narayan Singh had represented the seat many times before becoming the state chief minister for a brief period.
Shyama Singh, the late wife of Nikhil Kumar, who is a former Delhi Police chief, had also represented the seat.
The NDA has been winning the seat since the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, the NDA has already declared its seat-sharing agreement for the 40 seats. The BJP and JD(U) are contesting 17 seats each while the LJP has been given remaining six seats.
With inputs from agencies
Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.
Updated Date: Mar 22, 2019 20:23:27 IST