While CM Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP have decided to go solo, Bihar’s main opposition RJD has decided to contest in alliance with the Congress-AIUDF-led Grand Alliance in Assam.
Sources in JD(U) said the party has made up its mind to contest at least 32 assembly seats out of a total of 126 in Assam on its own. JD(U)’s Assam in-charge and MLC Gulam Rasool Baliyawi, and Bihar’s rural development minister Shrawan Kumar reached Guwahati on Friday to take a final call on the number of seats the party would contest.
Sources said Balyawi and Shrawan would hold a series of meetings with local JD(U) leaders and workers at different places in Assam on March 6 to take stock of the situation. Both leaders are expected to hold a press conference in Guwahati on March 7 to announce the party’s plans.
JD(U) Assam unit convener, Samsul Alam, is likely to file nomination papers from the Rupohihat constituency, which is going to the polls in the first phase. March 9 is the last date of filing nomination for the first phase.
JD(U) is yet to release the name of 32 seats it wants to contest. “The number of constituencies and the name of candidates will be decided by our national leaders,” Alam told TOI over the phone.
A few days ago, RJD submitted a list of 16 seats to the Congress-AIUDF led alliance and expressed its desire to contest mainly from constituencies, which have a large presence of Hindi and Bhojpuri speaking people from Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.
“Though Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF has given us a green signal to contest from 12 seats, out of the 16, the Congress is yet to convey its message. We are waiting for Congress response. If Congress gives us a respectable number as part of seat-sharing among the allies, RJD will contest as a partner of the grand alliance. Otherwise, we will go solo and our number of seats may go above 20,” RJD’s Assam state president Shonarul Shah Mustafa told TOI over the phone on Friday.
Mustafa said AIUDF has allowed RJD to contest altogether 12 seats namely Tezpur, Barchalla, Biswanath, Tinsukia, Doomdooma and Dibrugarh seats in the first phase, Katigorah, Ratabari and Sipajhar in the second phase, while Bilasipara East, Chenga and Gauhati West in the third and the last phase.
Of these 12 seats, 10 were won by BJP and its allies in the 2016 assembly polls, while two seats—Doomdooma and Chenga- by Congress. “Congress may not allow RJD to put up candidates from Doomdooma, Chenga and a few more seats. In such a situation, the RJD is ready to leave a few seats for Congress,” Mustafa said.
RLSP has so far decided to contest altogether 72 seats in all three phases. The party’s Assam state president Hazrat Ali on Friday released a list of 13 seats for the first phase where RLSP would put up its candidate. “RLSP’s candidates for the first phase seats will file their nomination papers on March 9,” Ali told TOI over the phone on Friday.