Hard bargaining on; K’taka deal finalised: Cong to fight on 20, JD(S) 8
The Congress on Wednesday sealed its seat tie-up with Janata Dal (S) in Karnataka but the talks over the contentious seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar remained inconclusive among the mahagathbandhan partners amid hard bargaining by most of the constituents. The RJD is reportedly ready to offer 11 seats to the Congress out of 40 in the State, whereas the grand old party is insisting on 13-14 seats.
Party sources said the meeting for the Bihar grand alliance could not reach at any conclusion as differences prevailed among partners like RJD, Congress, Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM), Vikashshil Insaan Party (VIP) and RLSP that quit the NDA and came into UPA couple of months ago.
Sources said the RJD, which is playing as the Captain of the grand alliance, is determined to give one seat each to HAM and VIP and only 3 to RLSP against the demands of two each and four respectively. To accommodate all including Left partners in the State, leaders opined in the meeting that Congress should be more accommodative and accept 11 seats.
When asked about the outcome of the meeting, Tejashwi said there are no differences and all are determined to contest and very soon the seats would be announced.
In Karnataka, the Congress will contest 20 seats and the JD(S) 8 in the Lok Sabha polls as per the deal finalised. AICC sources said the seat-sharing deadlock was resolved at a meeting between Congress president Rahul Gandhi and JD(S) secretary general Danish Ali at Kochi in Kerala on Wednesday evening.
As per the agreement, JD(S) will contest in Uttara Kannada, Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, Tumkur, Hassan, Mandya, Bengaluru North and Vijayapura.
During a recent meeting with Rahul in Delhi, JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda had scaled down his party’s demand and asked the national party to allot at least 10 out of the 28 Lok Sabha seats to his party. The JD(S) had earlier demanded that it be given 12 seats.
The JD(S) has already announced Gowda’s grandsons Nikhil Kumaraswamy and Prajwal Revanna as candidates from the party bastions of Mandya and Hassan, respectively. While Nikhil is son of Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, Prajwal is the son of Gowda’s elder son and PWD Minister HD Revanna.
Meanwhile, the Congress announced its second list for UP and a few seats in Maharashtra. The Congress announced the candidature of former MP Priya Dutt from Mumbai North. Dutt was earlier reluctant to contest.
Other candidates from Maharashtra include former Union Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal from Kanpur and sitting MP Savitri Phule, who recently quit the BJP and joined the Congress.
Present in the Bihar seat-sharing meeting were RJD leader Tejaswai Yadav, Congress Bihar General Secretary Shaktisinh Govil, HAM president Jitan Ram Majhi, VIP chief Mukesh Sahni and RLSP supremo Upendra Kushwaha.
The Congress second list of Uttar Pradesh includes senior leaders Raj Babbar. Babbar had won against Dimple Yadav, the wife of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in the by-election to the Firozabad seat in 2009. But in the 2014 general elections, he lost to VK Singh from Ghaziabad.
With this, the Congress has declared 27 candidates from the electorally-crucial Uttar Pradesh.
The other significant names include Kisan Congress chief Nana Patole from Nagpur and former Union minister Milind Deora from Mumbai South.
The other key names in the Congress second list include two new entrants to the party. BJP rebel Savitri Bai Phule would be contesting from Bahraich, the seat she won in 2014. Kaiser Jahan, who represented Sitapur in the Lok Sabha in 2009, has been fielded from the same seat, which she lost to the BJP’s Rajesh Verma in 2014. Jahan, who at the time was with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, joined the Congress after her expulsion.
Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, a young leader seen as close to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, is contesting from Mirzapur. Tripathi was a Congress legislator since 2012, who lost the 2017 Assembly election in which the BJP had a resounding victory.
Left out of the alliance, the Congress is contesting all 80 seats. The party also plans to build its base in the State, where it has been in a shambles since the 2014 elections. Congress chief Rahul made it clear that his sister Priyanka, who was inducted into active politics last month, has been tasked with building up the party from the grassroot level. So is Jyotiraditya Scindia, who has been put in charge of western Uttar Pradesh.