Knotty ties
THE WEEK|August 23, 2020
Knotty ties
Ally trouble hits both coalitions as Bihar gears up for assembly polls
 PRATUL SHARMA

IN THE RUN UP to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Hindustan Awam Morcha chief and former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi played hardball with the opposition grand alliance, demanding five seats for his party. After weeks of suspense and repeated threats of crossing over to the National Democratic Alliance, he settled for three seats. The bitter infighting within the grand alliance was one of the reasons why the NDA swept the polls, winning 39 of 40 seats in the state. After a brief lull caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, political activity has picked up in Bihar, with assembly elections due later this year. And, the grand alliance is once again beset by internal woes.

Manjhi had set July 10 as the deadline for forming a coordination committee to sort out issues regarding seat-sharing and to decide on the alliance’s chief ministerial face. It failed to work after Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav made it clear that anyone questioning his leadership was free to leave the grand alliance. Former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, who heads the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, is another alliance partner who is not getting along well with the young RJD leader. The Congress, meanwhile, is working overtime to keep the alliance intact.

“I have met all the allies in Patna,” said Shaktisinh Gohil, former Union minister and Congress’s Bihar in-charge. “Bihar is a large state which is politically vibrant and diverse. Things take time. But I am hopeful that issues will be resolved soon.”

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August 23, 2020