Ever since the disastrous run in Lok Sabha election the opposition Grand Alliance in Bihar has been on the verge of disintegration. The Rastriya Janta Dal's failure to win a single seat has somewhat diminish its leadership claim though being single largest party in state assembly and having a significant support base still provide it the vital edge over other constituents i.e. Congress, Rastriya Lok Samta Party’s, Hindustani Awami Morcha and Vikassheel Insan Party.
The upcoming by polls in 5 assemblies and one Lok Sabha seat has become the latest flash point. The elections are to be held on 21st October for Samistipur Lok Sabha seat which is vacated due to demise of Lok Janshakti Party's M.P. Ram Chandra Paswan as well as Nathnagar, Simri Bakhtiyarpur, Daraundha, Belhar and Kishanganj assembly seats which got vacant after sitting MLAs won the parliamentary election.
NDA constituents reached to the seat arrangement swiftly: Janta Dal United and Bhartiya Janta Pary will fight on four and one assembly seat while LJP will put up its candidate for the Lok Sabha seat.
On the other hand, Grand Alliance did not give any seats to RLSP, HAM and VIP. RJD has announced its own candidates for four assembly seats leaving Kishanganj and the Samstipur seat for Congress. However, defying the decision HAM’s Jitan Ram Manjhi and VIP’s Mukesh Sahni has announced their candidates from Nath Nagar and Simri Bakhtiyar constituency respectively.
While, after winning the only Loksabha seat from Grand Alliance, Congress state unit was initially over ambitious and was eager for a lion’s share in the by poll. The grand old party went on to announce the candidates for all seats and sent the names for approval to the AICC. Later, the party bargained for Nathnagar seat yet, it has to give up before the RJD's tough stand.
Jitan Ram Manjh who has been vocal against the RJD since the 23rd may outcome, addressing party workers in katihar recently, hit out on Tejashawi Yadav by saying that the leader of opposition has soft corner for NDA. Few days back also he had shown rebellious temper and had said that it’s up to RJD to decide whether it wants to stay in Grand Alliance or not.
Meanwhile, RJD has sent a strong signal that this time it will not budge to the pressure from partners. The Party's statement said that HAM and VIP staying or moving out have no impact on the result whatsoever. Moreover, vice president Shivanand Tiwari has advised the HAM chief that if he wishes he can put up a candidate in Nathnagar so as to get an idea about his party's strength.
The timing of the infighting could not have been worse for the grand alliance as assembly elections are months away. This is amount to giving NDA a walk over. Already the opposition has failed to capitalise on the appalling law and order situation in the state and collapse of state machinery during the recent rain. There were hardly any protests from them at the time of deaths of hundreds of children to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Muzzaffarpur despite an uproar from national media against the mismanagement.
However, a Bihar watcher has termed the crisis as 'blessings in disguise'. He explained that one of the causes of GA flop show in general election was that it gave away too many seats to parties like RLSP, VIP and HAM which have no proven base. According to him most of voters of the communities these leaders represent have been voting for NDA for last two decades. It was a mistake on part of RJD to assume that a large number of these voters will change allegiance just because of a few leaders who belong to the same community shifted their loyalty.
The analyst said that RJD seems to have realised the mistake and the party is making a course correction. He added that by opening their cards too early Manjhi and Sahni have given the RJD an opportunity to look for leaders belonging the respective caste group within and groom them, thus, spread it own roots rather than relying on them.