Mahagathbandhan, the alliance of RJD-Congress and a few smaller parties, is on verge of collapse a month before Bihar heads for assembly elections. Almost every party has reservations over the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav, the scion of Lalu’s dynasty.
A few months ago Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), the party of former CM Jitanram Manjhi, left the alliance to join NDA. Now RLSP, the party of Upendra Kushwaha which has a significant clout over Kushwaha voter base, has decided to exit from Tejashwi Yadav led Mahagathbandhan. Kushwaha’s constitute 6-7 population of Bihar and can swing the result in 10-20 constituencies, and therefore, the exit of RLSP means a loss of at least 10 seats for the Mahagathbandhan.
“The leadership proposed by the RJD to fight with NDA cannot defeat Nitish Kumar and I can’t stand behind such leadership,” Upendra Kushwaha, the leader of the party told party workers in Patna. “It’s not about seat-sharing. I am ready to fight on a few seats and would make my people understand this because it is for Bihar. But not with this leadership.”
RJD has made it clear that Tejashwi Yadav is the leader of Mahagathbandhan, and Chief Ministerial candidate, too. Other parties of the alliance including Congress have expressed their reservations about the leadership ability of Tejashwi Yadav and want to fight under the leadership of Lalu Yadav despite the fact that the charismatic leader is serving jail sentence in corruption case.
But, to ensure that there are no confusions over the fact who is leading the Mahagathbandhan and who is Chief Ministerial face, the RJD has removed Lalu Yadav from the posters and put Tejashwi Yadav in plus size. In fact, the party is projecting the junior Yadav as the upcoming CM of Bihar. However, Congress has made it clear that it is going to contest elections on the basis of Lalu. Congress spokesperson Gaurav Ballabh said that Lalu Yadav is the identity of every Bihari today and with his blessings, the grand alliance will do very well in the elections.
RLSP has decided to leave Mahagathbandhan over the issue of Tejashwi Yadav’s leadership while Congress has also expressed concerns. Although, unlike Manjhi, Kushwaha will go with NDA but will project a new alternative. “Our leader Kushwaha ji has said that we will offer a new alternative in Bihar. People are fed up with Nitish Kumar and don’t want to go for Tejashwi Yadav,” RLSP spokesman Mithislesh Kumar Singh told ET.
Political analysts are anticipating that RLSP will join the third front of Bihar, which, so far, has Owaisi led AIMIM, Pappu Yadav’s party, and many other smaller parties. Another key member of Owaisi led third front, named United Democartic Secular alliance (UDSA), is former Union minister Devendra Prasad Yadav, a four-time MP from Jhanjharpur in the Mithilanchal region.
The third front is a big issue for Mahagathbandhan which has now only RJD and a half-hearted Congress left, because the voter base of both are same. Even if UDSA could not win a large number of seats, it will ensure that Tejashwi Yadav led Mahagathbandhan loses badly in the upcoming assembly elections.
The third front has pockets of Influence, for example Owaisi’s party is influential in Seemanchal region of the state which has Muslims majority. In the last by-election on Kishanganj seat, AIMIM defeated the Congress by 10,000 votes. Similarly, RLSP has pockets of influence in Kushwaha dominated seats, Pappu Yadav and Devendra Yadav has their own pocket boroughs.
In all these seats, the third front is going to make the contest triangular, which will lead to victory of NDA due to division in opposition’s votes. The untimely collapse of Mahagathbandhan would ensure that NDA gets a handsome victory in the state despite the ineffective leadership of Nitish Kumar.