In what suggests that all might not be well within the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD, senior party leader and former Union Minister, Mohammad Ali Ashraf Fatmi seems to have extended a veiled threat to the party leadership. Speaking to ANI, the senior party leader said that he has been with the RJD President, Lalu Prasad Yadav for the last three decades and is aware of many of his secrets. He stated, “I have been with Lalu through all the highs and lows since the last 30 years, I’m party to many of his secrets.” He did not stop here and went on to add, “I have humbly sent my message. If I’m not getting the ticket then I should be told the reason.”
Fatmi has contested elections from the Darbhanga Lok Sabha seat in the past and won from the seat and won in every election, except in 1999, 2009 and 2014. It must be noted that cricketer turned politician, Kirti Azad, who is currently in the Congress had defeated Fatmi from Darbhanga in the 2014 Parliamentary elections. Now, the Rahul Gandhi-led party is keen on fielding Azad from the Darbhanga constituency. Congress leader, Rishi Mishra said, “Darbhanga can be called the epicenter of the Mithila region and Maithil Brahmins have traditionally been Congress supporters. We must respect their sentiments.” He further said, “If a Maithil Brahmin like Kirti Azad does not fight from Darbhanga, what is the point in fielding him from some other region.”
Fatmi’s statement and the Congress expressing the desire of fielding Azad from the Darbhanga constituency give ominous signs in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls. If Fatmi’s statement goes on to take the shape of infighting within the RJD, then it could also land the Congress-RJD coalition in trouble. The two parties have already announced a seat-sharing pact in the state but Fatmi bargaining for the Darbhanga constituency and the Congress remaining adamant on fielding Azad from the Lok Sabha seat could create unwanted trouble for the coalition. It would prove to be another severe jolt for the grand coalition if another anti-BJP alliance were to fall apart in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls. It should be noted that RJD leaders have also expressed the wish to field senior party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui from the Darbhanga Lok Sabha seat. RJD MLA and chief state spokesperson, Bhai Virendra said, “Darbhanga is our traditional seat. We have won it many times. Even in the 2014 polls, which were swept by the BJP-led NDA, our candidate lost the battle by a thin margin. We would, therefore, like to contest the seat again and field Abdul Bari Siddiqui this time.”
Unfortunately, for the RJD and the anti-BJP coalition, Fatmi’s statement has come when the country is merely a fortnight away from the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The opposition’s hopes of forging a grand coalition have already been dashed and the possible cracks in the Congress-RJD alliance might turn out to be the final nail in the coffin.