Lalu-less RJD blinks on seat

Patna: The RJD on Thursday blinked in the eyeball-to-eyeball tussle with the Congress over the Bhabua Assembly byelection by announcing that it won't contest the seat. "We have come to the mutual understanding that in the bypolls, the RJD will contest two seats and the Congress will fight one, which is Bhabua. The RJD will field its candidates from Araria (Lok Sabha) and Jehanabad (Assembly) seats," leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav said, flanked by RJD state unit president Ram Chandra Purbey, Bihar Congress working president Kaukab Quadri and senior Congress leader Madan Mohan Jha. Polling for the three seats will be held on March 11. RJD insiders said the decision was a reflection of the leadership gap in the party now that Lalu Prasad is in prison in Ranchi. A senior RJD leader told The Telegraph that the Bhabua seat would never have gone to the Congress had Lalu not been in jail. "Laluji always lives on his own terms. After 27 years, how can the Congress claim that Bhabua is their traditional seat? If Laluji had been around, we would have never lost this seat. It was just because of the tie-up with the RJD that the Congress managed to win 27 seats in the 2015 Assembly elections," the RJD veteran said. "Though Tejashwi has taken the place of Laluji, he still needs to learn a lot in politics especially in the case of seat-sharing. If this continues, we may end up losing many of our seats because the pressure from the Congress worked this time." The RJD had earlier declared it would contest all three seats. The Congress, on the other hand, insisted that Bhabua is its traditional seat, though the last time it won from there was in 1990 (Vijay Shankar Pandey). After that the seat was occupied by the RJD, BSP, LJP, CPI and the BJP respectively. Tejashwi denied any pressure from the Congress. "What pressure are you talking about? There is BJP pressure on Nitish Kumarji, who did not field any of his candidates on any of the three seats," Tejashwi said. The Congress's Quadri echoed Tejashwi, and said there was no tussle between the allies. After the media interaction, both leaders had tea together in the RJD office. The RJD announced that Sarfaraz Alam will contest from Araria and Sujay Yadav, son of late MLA Mundrika Singh Yadav, will fight from Jehanabad. The Congress has not yet announced the name of its Bhabua candidate.
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