Bihar, Dead-End for UPA?
Left with only three of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha segments, a fuming Congress on Tuesday said the seat-sharing arrangement proposed by allies, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) was “unacceptable” but allayed any fears over the longevity of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
“The Congress will contest as many seats as possible. Our workers are so angry that they have threatened to leave the party if we accept what has been offered to us by the two parties,” said Sushil Kumar Shinde, who was responsible for negotiating with the two UPA allies on behalf of the Congress.
Shinde was speaking after the RJD and LJP announced the seat sharing arrangement at a joint press conference in New Delhi.
The statements are a clear indication of the UPA fast approaching a dead-end in Bihar, especially as media reports implied that the Congress was stoking dissidence in RJD ranks.
Though there are no official statements to prove it at this point of time, but insiders say the association between the three parties is as good as over, especially as the Congress has refused to approach the RJD and LJP for clarifications.
Trouble first erupted after Congress opened the negotiations by demanding nine seats for its candidates against the four it had contested in 2004, but with allies refusing to relent, the Congress later climbed down and sought six seats.
However, the final arrangement worked out by the RJD and LJP, which Congress says it was not officially aware of, saw LJP increase its tally from eight to 12 seats and the RJD coming down marginally to 25 from an earlier 26 and the Congress got three against an earlier tally of four.
With successive failures of seat sharing negotiations ripping apart the United Progressive Alliance, the loss of Lalu Prasad’s RJD – the staunchest Congress ally over the last five years – just might be the final nail in the Congress led alliance.