Congress reminds RJD of promise to help it win one RS seat from Bihar

he RJD at present has a total of four members in the Upper House, including one from adjoining Jharkhand

The Congress in Bihar on Sunday reminded its ally Rashtriya Janata Dal of the "promise" to help the party win a Rajya Sabha berth from the state where it lacks adequate numbers in the assembly to win a seat in the Upper House on its own.

In an evocative statement issued to the media here, AICC in-charge of Bihar, Shaktisinh Gohil quoted a verse from the Ramacharitmanas to buttress his point that "the virtuous never betray a promise once made".

He also recalled "a press conference of the Grand Alliance (comprising five parties) during the Lok Sabha elections last year" where Tejashwi Yadav, heir apparent of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, had spoken about helping the Congress get a Rajya Sabha berth "from its own quota".

With 100 seats between them in the 243-strong Bihar Assembly, the RJD-Congress combine seem poised to wrest two of the five Rajya Sabha seats for which elections will be held from the ruling JD(U)-BJP alliance.

Tejashwi Yadav had made the announcement as a gesture aimed at placating the national party, which had been sore over getting a raw deal in the seat-sharing arrangements.

Of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the Congress had expressed the desire to field its candidates in 15 but had to settle with nine upon insistence from the RJD that some ground be ceded to accommodate newer and smaller allies like RLSP, HAM and VIP.

Moreover, the Congress had felt particularly mortified at the RJDs refusal to give up its claim on Darbhanga, which was won in 2014 for the BJP by Kirti Azad whom Rahul Gandhi had inducted with much fanfare and, understandably, an assurance that he will be fielded from the same seat.

The RJD fielded Abdul Bari Siddiqui, in the process alienating its own multiple term former Darbhanga MP Mohd Ashraf Fatmi, who ended up parting ways with the party and crossing over to Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U). Siddiqui, a veteran politician, lost the seat by a huge margin to BJP debutant Gopalji Thakur.

Meanwhile, the Bihar BJP took potshots at the Congress charging its rival with resorting to "emotional blackmail" and trying to "defraud" a Rajya Sabha seat from the RJD.

"It is an old habit of the Congress party... it is taking recourse to emotional blackmail to defraud a Rajya Sabha seat from the RJD. It will be interesting to see if Lalu Prasad, Tejashwi Yadav and Rabri Devi fall into the trap", tweeted Nikhil Anand, sharing a report on Gohils statement.

Filing of nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha elections comes to a close on March 13 next. The RJD at present has a total of four members in the Upper House, including one from adjoining Jharkhand.

The partys founding president, who is away in Ranchi serving sentences in fodder scam cases, is keeping his cards close to the chest. Speculations are rife that he may use the Rajya Sabha vacancy for sending yet another member of his family to the Upper House where his eldest daughter Misa Bharti also holds a seat.

However, some RJD sources claim that he could choose someone like Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, the partys national vice president and former Union minister, in an attempt to assuage the old guard who has been feeling slighted over the clout that his unripe children have come to enjoy.

Names of probable Congress candidates, in the event of it getting a chance, doing the rounds include actor-turned- politician Shatrughan Sinha and former Lok Sabha Speaker and the partys Dalit face Meira Kumar.

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