Ending days of wrangling, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Lok Janshakti Party on Tuesday entered into a seat sharing deal under which Lalu Prasad's party will contest 25 seats and Ram Vilas Paswan's outfit 12, leaving the remaining paltry three constituencies to Congress in Bihar.
"The RJD and LJP have reached an agreement to fight the elections together in Bihar. The RJD will contest in 25 and LJP in 12. We have left the remaining seats to Congress," RJD chief Lalu Prasad said at a joint press conference with LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan in New Delhi. In the 2004 elections, RJD had contested 26 seats out of a total of 40 in Bihar while LJP had put up candidates in eight constituencies. The Congress had fought in 4 parliamentary segments and the remaining two were contested by the Nationalist Congress Party and Communist Party of India. Prasad said they are with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and will remain so in the future. "We have nothing to do with the Third Front. Our aim is to defeat the communal forces," he said. Expressing hope that UPA will repeat its 2004 performance, Paswan said they have decided to come together in the national interest.
Significantly, no Congress leader was present at the press conference. Asked about the absence of Congress leaders, Prasad said "We have not called them to the press conference." Asked whether Congress was hurt, the railway minister said "My brother in law (Sadhu Yadav) is also angry." Paswan said the matter of how many seats Congress will get was between RJD and Congress.
In the last elections, the three parties RJD, Congress and LJP had contested under a pre-poll agreement in which CPI and NCP were also a part. CPI is now no longer with the UPA and NCP has already announced that it would contest 14 seats.
Of the four constituencies from where it had contested in 2004, Congress had won Aurangabad, Madhubani and Sasaram seats. During the seat sharing talks with LJP, Prasad was under tremendous pressure from its MPs as well as senior leaders not to contest less than 24 seats, two more than what it had won last time.
The tussle for seats was mainly between Prasad, who wanted 26 seats, and Paswan, who had threatened to go it alone if his party was not given 16 seats, double of the 8 it contested last time. This time although Congress had sought six seats, Prasad was not willing to give it any more than three seats it had won in the 2004 elections.