Pappu Yadav hints at rebellion; Congress deeply unhappy with seat sharing in Bihar 


  Jan Adhikar Party chief Pappu Yadav with his son Sarthak Ranjan. File

Jan Adhikar Party chief Pappu Yadav with his son Sarthak Ranjan. File
| Photo Credit: PTI

With a formal stamp on the seat division in Bihar and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) keeping Purnia for itself, the Congress is left with a Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav-size headache and also has to contend with enraged State leaders who find the principal opposition party settling for too little. 

The Congress has got nine out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the State and in majority of these seats, the party leadership claims, it has nominal presence, with a caste arithmetic leaning in favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. 

Regarding Purnia seat, the RJD’s decision to stick with its candidate Bhima Bharati, who switched from the JD(U) to the RJD just a few weeks ago, is being seen as a direct snub for the Gandhis who brought Mr. Pappu Yadav on board. “When Priyanka Gandhi ji called me to come and join the Congress, I did not think twice,” Mr. Pappu Yadav told reporters in Purnia. He hasn’t announced yet whether he will contest as an independent, but citing the example of Wayanad — where senior CPI leader Annie Raja is contesting against former Congress president Rahul Gandhi — hinted at a possibility of “friendly fights”. Mr. Yadav, whose last electoral success came in 2014, when he won from Madhepura on an RJD ticket, had represented Purnia thrice in the 1990s, two times as an Independent.

Feel short-changed

“I am committed to making Rahul Gandhi the country’s Prime Minister and helping the Congress revive in Bihar where, five years from now, it will be a force to reckon with in all 40 Lok Sabha constituencies,” Mr. Pappu Yadav said. His remark struck a chord with several Congress leaders, who feel short-changed. 

The Congress, many feel, should have negotiated for more and better seats, since in a national election, it has better resonance than the RJD. 

“In Bihar, our party has simply surrendered to Lalu Prasad’s whims and fancies. This is highly insulting to the party workers. Our State leadership couldn’t keep the party’s interest as supreme while negotiating seats with the RJD and now our central leadership looks helpless,” senior Bihar Congress leader Kishore Kumar Jha told The Hindu

The Congress veteran said the seats where the Congress could have been stronger were given to the RJD by a “weak State leadership”. Other than Kishanganj and Katihar, the Congress has not won the remaining seven in several decades. For example, Muzaffarpur seat that the Congress last won in 1984 and their alliance partner RJD in 1998 or Maharajganj, which the party last won in 1984. Or an urban seat like Patna Sahib which has been with the BJP since 2009 and the Congress does not fancy its chances here. 

“I think even now Mallikarjun Kharge ji and Rahul Gandhi ji should call off these relations and go alone instead of being in this insulting alliance,” Mr. Jha said.

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