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RJD upbeat over Cong tie-up hope

The strong possibility of a Congress-RJD-LJP tie-up and the possibility of NCP candidate and Union minister Tariq Anwar contesting from the Katihar Lok Sabha seat has triggered an euphoria in the RJD.

Its leaders have begun declaring that the alliance would win most of the 40 parliamentary seats in the state.

Their optimism is based on the 2004 Lok Sabha poll results when the same alliance won 29 of the 40 seats against the then combined BJP-JD(U) alliance, stunning political pundits. “We would be seen as the main challenger of the BJP and Narendra Modi, helping sway substantial Muslim votes towards us,” said RJD leader Ram Kripal Yadav.

Earlier, there were strong indications that the Congress and the JD(U) would come together. However, the pressure of Bihar Congress leaders for an alliance with the RJD and AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi succumbing to the pressure has left some JD(U) leaders crestfallen. “Rahul Gandhi sent a message by tearing up the bill aimed to save convicted politicians but later made a U-turn,” said a JD(U) MP.

“The social churn in Bihar politics was visible in the 2010 results, when many so-claimed caste and community leaders lost the elections as development became an agenda along with caste. With the BJP and the JD(U) parting ways, one can expect another social churn,” said a BJP leader.

Sources said Nitish Kumar could not pull off an alliance with the Congress because of the strong resistance offered by a section of JD(U) leaders, whose entire political career is based on anti-Congressism. The only attraction of the JD(U) and the RJD to ally with the Congress was aimed at attracting Muslim votes.

Having fought the 2004 polls alone, except for minor allies such as CPI, JD(U) leaders said there was a vast difference between 2004 and 2014. “The myth that Muslims vote en bloc has been exposed in Bihar. In the 2009 Lok Sabha and 2010 Assembly polls, the Muslims not only voted for JD(U) candidates but also for BJP candidates because of Nitish’s secular image,” said JD(U) MP Shivanand Tiwari, stressing that the formation of the alliance was nothing new and would not have any impact.

The BJP said a prime difference was that in 2004, the BJP was in power at the Centre and facing a strong “anti-incumbency” factor. “But this time, it is the Congress in power at the Centre for the past 10 years and facing the same. There is Narendra Modi’s leadership and people’s urge for a strong leadership,” said former deputy chief minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.

“But the tie-up would wipe out the JD(U) and we would take the anti-Lalu space in the state,” he added.