New Delhi: The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) led by former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad will contest half the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state, according to the seat-sharing agreement among the parties of the Mahagatbandhan announced on Friday.
The Congress, the second largest partner of the alliance, will contest nine seats, while the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) led by former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) of former state chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi—both former constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)—will contest five and three seats, respectively.
In addition, the Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP) led by Mukesh Sahni will contest three seats.
Sahni, who is popularly known as the “son of a mallah" (boatman), has a considerable following in the Nishaad community, an EBC (extremely backward classes). Sahni has also been a part of the NDA in the past.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation will contest one seat from the RJD’s quota.
The Lok Sabha elections in Bihar are expected to be a two-way contest between the Mahagatbandhan and the NDA, where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has an alliance with chief minister Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
“This press conference should be considered the first one for the Mahagatbandhan, which is based on the principles of social justice, socialism and secularism. This alliance is not just of political parties but a natural alliance of disenfranchised communities," Manoj Jha, a senior RJD leader and a Rajya Sabha member, said at a joint press conference with allies in Patna.
Sharad Yadav, a former national convener of the NDA, will contest the Lok Sabha elections again on the RJD symbol and will merge his Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) with the RJD after the elections.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, all the key opposition players contested alone.
The NDA had swept the state, winning 31 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats and decimating opposition parties, including the Congress, the RJD, and the JDU, which was then in opposition.
The JDU then joined hands with the RJD and the Congress to contest the 2015 Assembly elections.
The alliance won the election but in 2017, the JDU joined the NDA.
The changing alliance dynamics have added to the buzz around the Lok Sabha elections in the state.